8/27/09 at Coors Field

This was the final day of my trip, and it began with a home-cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs:

1_breakfast_by_nettie.jpg

The meal was prepared by Nettie, my “host mother” for the week. She and her husband Danny have season tickets at Coors Field, and to put it lightly, they are C-R-A-Z-Y about baseball. Their home is filled with baseball-related items, and when I finished eating my breakfast, I photographed as much of them as I could before leaving for Coors Field.

First of all, did you notice the smaller plate in the photo above? Yeah, those are baseball seams coming out in all four directions. And how about the salt and pepper shakers? I’m telling you, these people are nuts (and I mean that in a good way; I keep trying to get them to adopt me). Wherever I looked, there was a baseball-themed object.

The four-part photo below shows some of their food-related baseball items. Starting on the top left and then going clockwise, you can see 1) a baseball sign on their kitchen wall, 2) a baseball mixing bowl, 3) teeny baseball candles with burnt wicks, and 4) a baseball toothpick holder:

2_food_related_baseball_items.jpg

See what I mean?

Nuts.

And we’re just getting started…

Here’s another four-part photo that shows 1) baseball caps hanging on baseball hooks, 2) mini-baseball statues high up on a ledge, 3) a baseball key hook with an “I Love Baseball” lanyard hanging from it, and 4) a baseball stool sitting in front of a bottle-shaped Colorado Rockies piggy bank:

3_hooks_statues_stool.jpg

Ready for more?

Here’s another collage that shows 1) baseball rugs, 2) a baseball lamp sitting in front of a baseball clock, 3) a baseball calendar, and 4) baseball coasters and a baseball pad:

4_rugs_lamp_calendar_coasters.jpg

Speaking of clocks…

The one pictured below on the lower left has a baseball pendulum swinging back and forth:

5_clocks.jpg

Let’s go from clocks to pillows…

6_pillows.jpg

…and from pillows to the downstairs bathroom. Here are the towels:

7_towels.jpg

Here’s the soap dish:

8_soap_dish.jpg

And hey, let’s not forget the baseball hooks on the inside of the door:

9_bathroom_hook.jpg

Elsewhere in Danny and Nettie’s apartment, there were two baseball mouse pads:

10_mouse_pads.jpg

Then there was the pair of All-Star Game sneakers, which were sitting in front of a dresser with baseball handles:

11_shoes_and_drawer_handles.jpg

And finally (although I’ve only shown a fraction of the baseball items in their home), check out the Rawlings luggage:

12_rawlings_luggage.jpg

How cool is that?! (I’d be too nervous to travel with it. I’d be paranoid that someone would steal it.)

Anyway, yes, Coors Field…

It was a dreaded day-game-after-a-night-game, which meant there might not be batting practice. Still, I was optimistic and marched confidently toward Gate E:

13_zack_outside_coors_field_08_27_09.jpg

Oh yeah, baby, that’s right: the big glove was BACK.

Unfortunately, this is what the field looked like when the stadium opened:

14_no_batting_practice_08_27_09.jpg

No batting practice!
Faaaaaaaaaaaack!

I don’t get it. Why wasn’t there BP? The previous night’s game (at which there was no BP because of rain) had started at 6:40pm. It lasted two hours and 46 minutes. That means it ended at 9:26pm. That’s not exactly late. And the Rockies had only scored one run. Why?! I demand to know! Because it was get-away day? Sorry, but that’s lame.

This was my eighth game of 2009 without batting practice. My baseball totals at the previous seven were: 4, 3, 3, 6, 3, 4, and 2. That’s an average of a little over 3.5 balls per game. Not good…not now…not when I needed to snag five balls in order to reach 400 for the season. It’s not like this was going to be my last game of the year, and it’s not like I’d never reached 400 before. It’s just that…I don’t know…it was something I’d been shooting for by the end of August.

There wasn’t much happening early on, but I still had a chance to get myself on the board. Several Dodgers pitchers began playing catch in the left field corner, and one of them made a bad throw that rolled all the way into deep left-center. They didn’t bother to retrieve the ball, so it just sat there, right on the grass in front of the warning track. Naturally, I ran over and got myself as close to the ball as possible. This was my view as I waited there for the next five minutes:

15_ball4216_on_field.jpg

Finally, a couple pitchers stepped out of the bullpen in right-center and began walking slowly across the field. Hiroki Kuroda was the player closest to me, and he spotted the ball on his own. I didn’t have to point at it or call his name. I didn’t even bother asking him for the ball in Japanese. I didn’t say a word. I was the only fan standing there *and* I had the big glove. If ever there was a guaranteed ball, I figured, this was it…and sure enough, he walked over and picked it up and tossed it to me. I made a careful two-handed catch and squeezed the ball inside the gigantic pocket. I thanked Kuroda in Japanese, then took a peek at the ball, and was happy to see that it said “DODGERTOWN” on the sweet spot. Nice!

Danny had not snagged a Dodgertown ball at either of the previous two games, and he knew that I had, so he asked me if I could spare one of mine.

“I know you always give away one of your baseballs to a little kid,” he said, “so can I be the little kid today?”

Danny had the ball in his possession soon after. It was an honor to give it to him, knowing that he would treasure it in his own collection.

There wasn’t too much action after that, unless you consider THIS to be action:

16_old_folks_with_big_glove.jpg

Everyone inside Coors Field, it seemed, wanted to see the big glove, and everyone asked the same question: “Where did you get it?” I meant to count the number of times I got asked that question, but once the stadium opened, I quickly forgot. I would estimate the number to be somewhere around 50, and I gave the same answer every time: “I don’t know. It was a gift. A friend found it online and sent it to me.” Next time I take the big glove to a game, I might print up cards with that answer and hand them out.

Meanwhile, the lack of activity on the field was mind-numbing. All I could do was spend my time posing with the big glove…

17_zack_posing_with_big_glove.jpg

…and then take photos of my friend Robert Harmon doing the same:

18_robert_goofing_with_big_glove.jpg

Yawn.

Finally — I don’t even know when — a few more Dodgers came out to run and stretch and throw in shallow left field.

Ramon Troncoso spotted my big glove and asked if he could see it.

Here he is checking it out as Ronald Belisario stood nearby looking on.

19_ramon_troncoso_big_glove.jpg

Belisario tossed a few balls to Troncoso, who struggled to catch them and seemed to enjoy the challenge. Then he handed the glove to Belisario, who inspected it thoroughly before walking it back over to me:

20_ronald_belisario_big_glove.jpg

(Is it just me, or does the glove kinda look like an octopus or giant squid? You have to click these links. Especially the octopus. In fact, better yet, copy-and-paste the link into a new window and then drag it down next to the glove. Huh? Huh?)

Soon after my big glove was returned, I got George Sherrill to toss me my second ball of the day. Just like the ball I’d gotten from Kuroda, this one also had a Dodgertown stamp on the sweet spot.

One of the nice things about being at a game without batting practice (just kidding, there IS nothing nice about it) is that the players have more free time, and they’re usually more relaxed, and it’s easier to get close to them. That was the case here, as Troncoso came over and leisureley signed autographs for everyone:

21_ramon_troncoso_signing.jpg

I got his autograph on a ticket from the previous game, then ran around to the right field side and got Ubaldo Jimenez to sign one from August 25th. Here are the two autographs:

22_troncoso_jimenez_autographs.jpg

Coincidentally, both of those players wear number 38 and wrote it underneath their names.

Then, once again, there was a lack of action.

See what I mean?

23_groundskeeper_at_work.jpg

I *thought* I was going to snag my third ball along the right field foul line, but I ran into some bad luck. Franklin Morales was playing catch with Joe Beimel, so I headed down to the front row and held up the big glove:

24_zack_big_glove_RF_foul_line.jpg

I simply wanted Morales to see me so that he’d consider tossing me the ball when he was done. Well, totally unexpectedly, right in the middle of long-tossing, he decided to throw one to me — except he airmailed me, and the ball landed in the fourth row, and some other fan ended up with it. Fabulous.

I headed to the left field corner after that because Jonathan Broxton started playing catch with Guillermo Mota. Here’s a shot of Broxton catching one of the throws:

25_jonathan_broxton_playing_catch.jpg

There were a bunch of fans waiting along the foul line, but I was the only fan in fair territory. When the two players finished throwing, Broxton walked over and looked at the big glove and smiled and fired the ball at me from about 40 feet away. I was lucky to catch it. It was another Dodgertown ball, and before I had a chance to label it, he started waving at me with his glove as if to say, “Throw it back.” So I did. I tossed him a near-perfect knuckleball, and he seemed to be mildly impressed. He then turned his back to me and took a few steps toward the fans in foul territory and cocked his arm back as if he were going to throw them the ball. He then turned back to me and laughed and tossed me the ball for a second time. I was really surprised by the whole interaction. I’d seen the Dodgers a bunch of times in recent years, and Broxton was never friendly. It’s nice to know that even the most serious player can be “cracked,” as it were, and it’s also nice to have an extra reason to root for him (beyond the fact that he’s a freak of nature with a frighteningly strong arm).

The following photo needs no explanation…

26_fan_with_big_glove.jpg

…although I should point out (because it’s hard to see here) that the guy has a purple goatee.

Shortly before the game started, Juan Castro threw me another Dodgertown ball along the left field foul line, and then I got Andre Ethier to sign a ticket. This one, unlike the autograph he’d signed for me the day before, did not get smudged:

27_andre_ethier_autograph.jpg

A few minutes later, Manny Ramirez and several other guys began playing catch in front of the 3rd base dugout. I decided to put on my Dodgers T-shirt, and I wore it backwards so that the “RAMIREZ 99″ would face toward the field. I *really* wanted a ball from Manny, and I thought it might help convince him to toss one to me. Unfortunately (I know…shocker) when Manny finished throwing, he didn’t toss the ball to anyone. He didn’t even end up with the ball (he could have if he wanted to), so I turned my attention elsewhere. Rafael Furcal…yes! He’d thrown me a ball two days earlier, right in that section, right before the game. I knew he was going to end up with the ball again. My only concern was whether or not he’d recognize me.

“Ladies and gentlemen…” boomed the voice of the public address announcer, “will you please rise and remove your hats for the singing of our national anthem?”

Furcal caught the final throw and jogged toward the dugout. I was being forced to stand behind Row 10. (That’s one of the stupid rules at Coors Field.) I held up my big glove and shouted his name. He looked up and lobbed the ball to me. I was convinced that someone else was going to reach in front of me…but no one touched it! I made another careful two-handed catch with the big glove and felt great about having just snagged my 400th ball of the season. (My single-season record is 543. I did that last year.)

Seconds before the music started, I took a photo of the ball. The red arrow is pointing to Furcal:

28_400th_ball_of_2009.jpg

Then, after the anthem was done, I asked a nearby fan to take my picture in the approximate spot where I’d made the catch:

29_zack_with_400th_ball_of_2009.jpg

It was game time. I headed out to my front-row seat in left field.

The two worst things about the game were that:

1) There was only one home run, and it didn’t land anywhere near me.
2) I was sitting in the sun, and the right side of my face ended up pinker than the left.

The highlight of the game was when a one-armed fan (who looked like Robert) ran over and grabbed my big glove and sat back down in his seat (in front of which was his own little strip of AstroTurf) and posed for my camera:

30_view_to_my_left_during_game.jpg

Yep, just another day at the ballpark…

Here’s a photo of me, taken by Robert who was sitting just beyond the one-armed fan:

31_zack_during_game_08_27_09.jpg

Here’s another photo that was taken by Robert. He’s in the middle. Jameson Sutton (the guy who snagged Barry Bonds’ final home run ball and sold it for $376,612) is on the left…and I’m on the right:

32_jameson_robert_zack_08_27_09.jpg

I’m ashamed to admit that Robert’s ear hair (okay, no, it was just his regular hair) was tickling MY ear…and no, I didn’t enjoy it. (The fan in the background is like, “Whoa, take it easy, fellas…”)

Good times (but not a whole lot of balls) in Denver.

Final score of this game?
Dodgers 3, Rockies 2.
My boy Broxton notched a four-out save.

And then Danny and Nettie drove me to the airport.

SNAGGING STATS:

33_the_four_I_kept_08_27_09.jpg• 5 balls at this game (four pictured here because I gave one away)

• 400 balls in 47 games this season = 8.51 balls per game.

• 616 consecutive games with at least one ball

• 175 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball

• 4,220 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 120 donors (click here and scroll down for the complete list)

• $24.86 pledged per ball

• $124.30 raised at this game

• $9,944.00 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

13 Comments

hey zack i have to ask a question… when can you come to rogers stadium to watch a game? if you do go to a game please e mail me!

Zack,

I KNOW you know the infamous number is coming. You gotta plan a trip to Cincinnati for when you’re gonna do it. There’s just no other way. It would be a dishonor to Mr. Rose. And I know you wouldn’t want to dishonor his greatness the way the Hall of Fame does. Think about it.

Ben

zack i was looking at my baseball cards and i saw a card of jim thome and he was wearing the big glove, he was in the dugout with it. is there any chance it is your glove. if it was that would be so cool.
-bettencourt

What a trip! Your “host parents” look like some really cool people! I hate when the weather is nice and there’s no BP. So frustrating. Sounds like you had a good week regardless. I finally get to go to a game tomorrow (9/1) and it’s a doubleheader! The Rangers have had 2 long road trips lately, so I’ve only been to 2 games in the last month.
Good job at Coors, keep it up!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

When is your next game?

I get the same questions over and over again when I take the big glove to games. I bet you also get, “You’re not gonna miss anything with THAT glove are you?” Little do they know that it’s like trying to catch with a laundry basket stuck on your arm. Since about this time last year I’ve been using mine as a catch-all autograph canvas as well, so it’s covered with signatures after only a year (I’ve got a sharpie tucked into the webbing for that purpose). Because of this, I also get “Who all do you have on that thing?” Truth is, I have a cheat sheet at home detailing 95% of the autographs on there because aside from Lance Berkman and a couple others, I can’t tell from just looking. And my staple answer for, “Where did you get it?” is that my parents bought it for me on one of their trips in their motorhome. I don’t know where or how much. I did tell CJ Wilson though, since he is always wanting to borrow it and never fails to hook me up. He’s trying to get them to make him a lefty version.

Last week I actually caught a homer on the fly with mine. I was more surprised than everyone else in the stands. I had it on in the front row of right field as I was trying to get Esmerling Vasquez to toss me a ball. I glanced back at the righty hitting and he clocked an opposite fielder right at me. Immediately it was apparent that I had a play on it so I thought for a split second of swapping gloves real quick, but I figured I had as much chance of a successful catch with the big glove as I had with the quick switch. It came down a few feet to my left so I sidestepped and stuck up the big glove in front of the guy beside me. The ball hit and bounced up about 8 inches and fell right back down inside. Success! I’ve seen a few players use my glove to field flies and only a couple have been able to keep one in the pocket.

Donny in Houston

hey zack, jacob again…..ill be attending on september 4th so ill miss seeing you….. good luck and thanks a lot for replying. i dont think ill bring my cubs hat to the game though because we no luis alicea and his family….his daughters in my class. He’s the first base coach for the mets and he might supply us with tickets. Hey my brother was at the game when i got a ball using the glove trick and from across the field, he took a video. He put it on facebook and its hilarious. Thanks again!

Hey Zack this is my first ever comment but im a long time reader. My mom was cleaning out her closet and in one of my dads totes we found a ton of old sports things. One thing we found was a Tiger Stadium final game ball. It is a official game ball and it even looks like it is rubbed down with mud. I was wondering have heard of a tiger stadium final season ball? Becausse this one was a final GAME ball. It has the final season logo on it but underneath that it sya FINAL GAME and underneath that it says September 27, 1999. If u could just email me back that would be great. Keep up the great work your doing for charity and visit Comerica Park soon. GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zack, it saddens me that in your previous entry you refered to Dinger, an anthropomorphized triceratops, as simply, the Rockies “Mascot” ;) jk, but good luck in New York, hope you had fun in Denver.
Noah

my bad zack the card was a 2003 topps Jason Michaels Phillies card not a jim thome card. anyways was it your big glove?
-bettencourt

Fballkid999 –
Hey, regarding that Tigers Final GAME ball, I know all about it. Is it this one I had here (hope nobody minds if I post an Ebay auction link): http://cgi.ebay.com/Rawlings-99-AL-Tigers-Stadium-Final-Game-Baseball-RARE_W0QQitemZ270447648319QQcmdZViewItemQQptZVintage_Sports_Memorabilia?hash=item3ef7ef9e3f&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14

Do you know if there was a different Final Season ball that didn’t have the date on it? That I’ve never heard of. Pretty sure they only made one for the final game.

Zack you nailed it on Dinger. He needs to look tougher. Maybe spikes and leather. As far as the no BP. I love the Rockies but they suck because they rarely have BP after a night game. No matter if it was an early game or if the game finishes early. Despite BP you did really well. Say what you want but Coors can be a tough place to snag basballs at times…I enjoyed reading your entries on the Rockies/ Good job…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Hey Zack:

Great Job in Coors this weekend! That was a great series between the Dodgers and Rockies!

But my real question is seriously, where did you get the big glove?

Its so cool!

Thanks, Devin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 304 other followers