Cleveland, Minnesota, and Atlanta

As I mentioned yesterday on Twitter, I’ve booked trips to see games in Cleveland, Minnesota, and Atlanta. But as I didn’t mention on Twitter, here are the dates:

indians_twins_braves.jpg

May 1st — Cleveland (7:05pm; Indians vs. Twins)
May 2nd — Cleveland (1:05pm; Indians vs. Twins)
May 3rd — Cleveland (7:05pm; Indians vs. Blue Jays)

May 4th — Minnesota (7:10pm; Twins vs. Tigers)
May 5th — Minnesota (12:10pm; Twins vs. Tigers)
May 6th — Minnesota (7:10pm; Twins vs. Orioles)

May 17th — Atlanta (7:10pm; Braves vs. Mets)
May 18th — Atlanta (7:10pm; Braves vs. Mets)
May 19th — Atlanta (7:10pm; Braves vs. Reds)
The last time I was at Progressive Field, it was called Jacobs Field. We’re talkin’ 1998. Look at this photo of me there (in my Guilford College “Class of 2000″ T-shirt). That’s still the only time I’ve ever been to that stadium. One game. Twelve years ago. I barely remember anything. Gotta do something about that. And since I’ll be seeing two games there against the Twins, I’ll have some extra chances to snag a commemorative Target Field ball. I’d love to get one in Cleveland so I don’t have to worry about it in Minnesota. Unfortunately, May 1st is a Saturday, so I’ll have to deal with a bigger weekend crowd, but the Monday game on May 3rd should be nice-n-empty. 
I’m most looking forward to Target Field, which will be my 47th major league stadium. Based on what I’ve seen of it so far, it looks like an annoying-but-interesting place to snag baseballs. 

aardsma_to_zumaya.jpg

(I’m hoping to get a ball from Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, who, alphabetically speaking, would become the last name on my list. “David Aardsma to Joel Zumaya” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?) Now, it just so happens that Pitch In For Baseball has a big media connection in Minnesota, so I might get interviewed about my fundraising efforts while I’m there. That connection, by the way, is Roy Smalley, a former major league All-Star, who does pre- and post-game commentary for FSN (the Twins’ FOX affiliate) and recently became the president of the charity. But wait, it gets better! My girlfriend will be flying out from NYC and meeting me on May 4th.
Speaking of girlfriends, the thing I’m most looking forward to in Atlanta is meeting up with my very first girlfriend ever. Her name is Amy. She lives there now. Here we are in 1995. I haven’t seen her since 1996, and after that, there was a 10-year span when we fell completely out of touch. (It’s kinda funny how we did get back in touch: she randomly stumbled upon this article about me and then tracked me down on Friendster.) Relationship reminiscing aside, I’m really looking forward to checking out Turner Field. The last time I was there? The year 2000, and here’s my photographic proof.
I’m planning to have a “Top Ten Stadiums for Snagging” list in my new book. Target Field probably won’t make the cut, but Progressive Field and Turner Field probably will. Therefore, in all seriousness, the research element will be a big part of these trips.

30 Comments

Sounds good.

Nice post Zack. Sounds like an event filled May to me. Haven’t talked in a while. We met in Milwaukee last April if you remember, but I don’t blame you if you don’t. I received the bone marrow transplant in September-October and am recovering. Opening day can not get here soon enough. If all goes as planned I might be hitting up 20 of the 23 Brewer games in April. Most all of the games at Miller, Wrigley for a game, DC for 3, Pittsburgh for 3, and then San Diego for the 4-gamer. I’m going to be starting summer classes in June (I need just 9 credits to graduate from UW-Madison), so I’m trying to hit up as many games before then. 9 credits in 8 weeks probably isn’t going to leave much time for anything else, so we’ll see how that goes. Good Luck on the season and on finishing the book, I’m looking forward to reading it. ~ Ben

http://www.groupon.com/atlanta/

Check this out today. Don’t know how much you like to spend but decent deal.

I’m still looking forward to possibly seeing you at Safecoo Field this year!

Zack,
I’ll be in attendance for at least one of those Cleveland games. Nick probably will be too. We’ll have to see if we can hit in the early afternoon/morning somewhere in the Cleveland area.

Erik
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com

WARNING!!! NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART! (its not like graphic or innapropriote, but it made me cry a little)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2XnWkNMwJ8

Zack, those dates are right in my wheelhouse. I already have tickets to two of those tilts and will probably be at all 3. I should have some preliminary snagging suggestions for you by then.

Being a lifelong resident of the great state of Minnesota, I can show you around a bit if you want. Being from NY I would doubt that you will find our humble Twin Cities to be all that special though. Let me know if you need a ride from the airport or if you plan on renting a car.

Have you ever been to the Mall of America? What are your plans for lodging or tickets? I have used Priceline to book the 4 trips that I have planned thus far and saved a huge amount on hotels.

Just let me know what assistance you need or what questions you have and I well take care of things.

Big Glove Bob

STONEHOOKSFAN1-
Word.

BEN-
Wow…glad to hear you’re doing okay. Jeez, take care of yourself and yes, get to as many games as possible…always. I remember cramming in games during the first and last two months of the season back in the days when I went to sleep-away camp in the summers. Good times.

JAMESCHUNTER-
Thanks. Always glad to see my options…

JOLTINJOE9-
I’m *thinking* of August 30th and 31st, but it’s a longshot, so please don’t hold me to it.

ERIK-
Cool. Just let me know your schedule when you figure it out, and maybe we can make something happen. And also…what’s the deal with easter eggs at that stadium? Something about the trees in center field…and a picnic area…and what? If you give me any tips about that, I won’t use them on the day you’re there.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
I clicked it, saw the title, and immediately closed the window.

BIG GLOVE BOB-
Awesome. Thanks so much for offering to help (and for using “tilt” which is a great/underused word). As much as I’d love to take a tour of the city, I just know that my priority is going to be blogging/working in between games, so let’s not plan any extra-curriculars just yet, if that’s okay. But maybe we could grab lunch one day? I’m definitely not renting a car. I never do that. I don’t have tickets or a hotel yet. I only booked my flights, and that’s it. I’m planning to get a hotel as close to the stadium as possible, but without spending too much money…and just cabbing to and from the airport. Any suggestions for where I should stay? What’s the area like around the ballpark? Is it downtown-ish? Are there stores and restaurants? Also, is it a long ride from the airport? If it’s only gonna be like $20 or $30 bucks, then I’m not too concerned, but if a taxi is gonna run me $50 or more each way, then yeah…ouch. In New York, when people ask me to pick them up at any of the airports, I just tell them, “Screw you. Jump in a cab and come find me.” It’s SUCH a hassle. The airports are far away from Manhattan, and they’re mammoth, and parking is a nightmare. You need a GPS device just to find your way around. So that’s what I picture whenever anyone in any other city offers to pick me up, and I end up feeling guilty. But if it’s really not too much trouble, then I’d take you up on it. Jona and I are getting in at different times on May 4th, so maybe we could get a ride back there with you on May 7th? But…hmm, that’s a weekday, and you might be working around the time that we’re leaving. I don’t know, we have almost two months to figure it out. BTW, I have been to the Mall of America. That was in 1999 when I was in Minnesota to see the Metrodome (where I snagged my 1,500th lifetime ball). Nothing but good memories. Ready for some more. Thanks again. Looking forward to hanging out in your world for a few days.

EVERYONE-
If you’ve sent me an email recently, I’ll get to it soon-ish. I gotta get back to my book right now and just focus on that for a bit…

Long time reader first time commenter here and rookie ballhawk this season from southern PA! Been following forl ast two years and big Zack fan! any more trips you planning this season away from the east coast?

Awesome stuff Zack. Looking forward to seeing what you make of Jacobs (sorry, Progressive) Field. I was there for 1 game back in 2007 and I really enjoyed it. We sat in the Upper Deck in Right field. If I manage to get over to the States late this summer from the Uk, Minnesota is definitely on my wish list of places to visit because of Target Field. I just love the way it looks. Not sure whether it helps or not, but Rick Prescott over at http://www.ballparkmagic.com/ has been chronicling the construction of Target Field since long before day 1 and has some really awesome shots which may/may not be of use to your snagging plans.

With your book presumably taking up most of your time in the coming year, how often are you going to be able to snag in 2010?

Neil
http://whosyourtiger.mlblogs.com/

The stadium opens at 4:30 and often times the Indians are already hitting and there have been some players that have taken early BP. There’s usually plenty of balls laying in the seats on a good day. I found 23 Easter Eggs there last year in 13 games. Some days are better than others for eggs.

There’s no longer a picnic area in Center Field. Its now a monument park, named Heritage Park. There is the center field fence, trees, and a 12-15 foot wall behind the trees. Balls that bounce over the fence or land in the trees or hit off the wall drop to the stumps and can be seen through a tiny gap at the bottom of the fence. You can reach in and grab them. Theres a few pics of the park in this entry:
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/05/5-9-09_progressive_field.html

This picture shows the fence, gap, trees, wall really well:
http://countingbaseballs.mlblogs.com/photo%2874%29.jpg

I checked my Indians season ticket plan and I’ll be there on Sat May 1.

Erik

GATHERINGBASEBALLS-
Hey. Thanks for checking out my blog for such a long time, and for leaving a comment. I’m considering an epic road trip beginning in late August on the West Coast…with a friend…and slowly making my way back east. I won’t know for sure for a few more months. It all depends on the book — if I can truly finish it before the All-Star break. Good luck this season. Maybe I’ll see you in Philly or Baltimore?

NEIL-
Thanks for the link. Cool stuff. I only looked at it briefly because I *do* want to be surprised by some things when I’m there in person. I really don’t know how many games I’ll get to attend this year. It looks like I’ll only be at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium a handful of times before the All-Star break. Thinking about seeing a few games in Baltimore, but haven’t booked anything there yet. Other than that…? No clue. At the very least, I think I’ll attend a few dozen games this season, mostly outside of New York, but as things stand right now, I don’t think I’ll even come close to snagging 500-plus balls like I’ve done the previous two seasons. It’s too bad I live in a city with TWO stadiums that are both so unpleasant to go to. If I lived in Baltimore, Arlington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Kansas City, San Diego, Phoenix, Cleveland, etc., I’d definitely buy season tickets.

ERIK-
Wow, thanks for the advice and photos. Much appreciated. I’m guessing you’ve found most of the eggs in right field…right? And also, what’s the deal with the bleachers in left field? Can anyone go in there at any time with any ticket? Like, can you just walk in there from the standing room only section? Or is it sealed off from the rest of the stadium and closely guarded?

Sounds good Zack…how many ballparks could you hit on your *possible* epic road trip?

Hey Zack,

I will give you a few options here and try to address all of your questions and then some.

Option 1: Stay by the airport, which is right by the Mall and take light rail into the city. Certainly the least expensive option since cab rides would be kept at a bare minimum since the mall has everything your heart could desire and the light rail takes you right to the new park. Literally, you could stumble off the train into the park.

Checking Hotwire, which I have used but find the prices to be higher than the name your price rates that you can get with practice on Priceline, I have found the following for the dates May 4th through the 7th: 3 star MOA area hotel for $52 a night.

Option 2; Stay downtown. A lot more vibrant than staying by the sterile big mall. However, you would probably spend more on cabs and the like. Checking Hotwire again for May 4th through the 7th shows that a 3 and a half star hotel can be had for $54 a night and a 4 star offering can be had for $74 a night.

The area the park is in on the edge of downtown. The park itself will be nice, however the area directly around the park leaves plenty to be desired. On one side of the park sits a huge “energy recovery” site. Energy recovery is code speak for a huge garbage burning plant. On another side of the site sites a bunch of homeless shelters. The area is filled with strip clubs. You will be mere blocks from Whispers, Sex World, Whispers, Seville, Choice, Dreamgirls, Sinners, Sheiks, Rick’s Cabaret, Skyway Lounge, Augies, and last but not least, Deja Vu. They love their nudie bars in downtown Minneapolis and the warehouse district where the new park sits is where they mostly have settled.

There will be all sorts of other kinds of stuff to do as well. Lots of restaurants and shops downtown but things tend to be much more expensive…although that is relative to Manhattan, I am guessing it would be very cheap by comparison.

My availability mid-week is great. I am the boss and picking people up from the airport really isn’t that big of a deal. If push comes to shove, I will order one of my lackeys to pick you up.

Big Glove Bob

I listed Whispers twice and forgot to mention BJ’s and the Double Deuce….my apologies to the ladies.

Cool trips, Zack. Progressive Field is pretty cool. Never been to Turner. We’ll probably try to do the three GA-FLA stadiums in the next two years. Never been to any of them. I wish we could make it back to Minnesota, but that’s not in the cards for a couple years probably. I can’t believe they have a moat there. What a terrible new trend in ballpark construction. I’m glad that Safeco Field and Camden Yards (my top two stadiums of choice, despite that we live in neither state) were built before the beginning of this fan unfriendly moat trend.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

The bleachers aren’t accessible directly from the home run porch, you have to go underneath them to get to them. They aren’t general admission either, they are ticketed “seats.” There is an usher for each section, but they didn’t seem to into checking tickets. You should be ok. There’s also a nice wheelchair accessible area in the front of the bleachers that is good for catching home run balls. You could hang out in one of the tunnels and then have plenty of room to roam to your left or right if a ball is hit toward the bleachers, like this guy did:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hj9AFq72pPI
( I was at that game too. I remember thinking, “wow that’s the same guy!!” when he caught his second ).

GATHERINGBASEBALLS-
The potential trip, as it stands now, would take me to 16 different stadiums. But I think the itinerary is gonna need a few tweaks. There’s a chance that the whole thing won’t even happen. But hey, at least I’m thinking about it, right?

BIG GLOVE BOB-
Whoa, thanks for all the info. The idea of staying near the mall is appealing (especially to Jona who’s gonna need some entertainment while I’m blogging every day). Do you know how late the mall is open? If I get back at 11pm from Target Field, are there still restaurants open? I suppose I could look it up, but it’s more fun to ask you. Also, how long is the light rail ride, how much does it cost, and does it run all day? I had no idea about the “quality” of the area surrounding the stadium. Sounds like Citi Field, except not as bad. (I’m sure the ladies will forgive you.)

TODD-
Yeah, the moat trend is horrible. I can understand it at Yankee Stadium (sort of) because there are so many fancy-schmancy people here, but (no offense, Minnesota) in Minnesota? Really?! I wonder how much those seats even cost in Minnesota. I should just buy one and then terrorize the section for a day.

ERIK-
Thanks again. I might just buy a bleacher ticket so that I can get in there if/when I need to.

that should be cool re-visiting a stadium you havent been to in a while, anyways another great blog.
nathan
http://soxfan3224.mlblogs.com

Zack-From Minneapolis
Route 55 – The Hiawatha light-rail line offers fast, frequent service from downtown (5th Street) to Mall of America. Hiawatha light-rail trains leave every 7.5 minutes during rush hours, every 10-15 minutes at other times. Travel time is 36 minutes. I don’t know about how much it costs, but it can’t be too bad. I can certainly give you guys a ride back to the hotel as well.

A little piece of trivia. The city of Bloomington, MN has more hotel rooms than Minneapolis and St. Paul COMBINED. That is due to the proximity to the mall and the airport. The mall itself closes fairly early. I want to say 9pm. However, there are other restaurants around. I would suggest eating somewhere downtown after the game. There are some niche places I know of if you are kosher.

The weather should be very nice in early May. I hate the heat and May weather is right up my alley. I will be doing a little ballhawking myself at those games. The stadium is very urban and it appears that balls may exit the stadium and roll down the city streets. Especially with Morneau and Thome. I am going to a season ticket holder open house next Sunday and will get a chance to completely scout the place.

I am guessing that there will be glove trick opportunites, however the ushers will probably not allow it.

The Minnesota crowds get to events annoyingly early. Waldo will beat you to the game for sure. BP will get crowded right away. It can’t be any worse than the Dome was, but every game is expected to be a sell out.

Big Glove Bob

Zack- following up on your back-and-forth with Eric, we went to two games in Cleveland last season. For one we had tickets in the LF bleachers and for the other in the second deck in RF, I don’t remember anyone checking my ticket anywhere. And, we sat in the LF bleachers for the second half of the second game (the game where our tickets were in RF). Frankly, the ushers in LF didn’t care what we did whatsoever. Indeed, we Tim and I played catch in a narrow tunnel into the bleachers with an usher literally watching us for amusement — see http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com/22%20-%20jake%20tunnel%20catch.jpg. Crowds of people were walking between us under the usher’s watchful eye. And he never said a bad word to say to us. If you look at my August 2009 entries, I did a pretty good job of documenting Progressive Field and it might be helpful for scouting it out.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

NATHAN-
Yup, I’m looking forward.

BIG GLOVE BOB-
For the record…I was born Jewish, but Im probably the most nonreligious person you’ll ever meet, so no, I don’t need Kosher food. In fact, I’ll be eating a ham and cheese sandwich (on a croissant) in just a few minutes. Thanks for all the info on the light rail. Now I can’t decide where to stay, but I’ll figure it out soon. I have no idea what to expect in terms of the weather. I expect it to be snowing in May. Minnesota?! That’s, like, near the north pole, isn’t it?

TODD-
I just took another look at your Cleveland blog entries. Very helpful. That stadium looks glorious.

Zack, I’m not a local, but as a NYer who has ventured to Minneapolis a few times, and has stayed near the Mall and in Downtown, I’d go with downtown on Hotwire. I found everything to be within reasonable walking distance and there a lot of good museums downtown as well. You can also take a nice walk by and over the Mississippi River. Downtown is accessible via light rail from the airport to downtown–and you can use it to get to the mall.

For my money, with the exception of the amusement park, the mall is like most malls in the US, except on super-steroids. Simply more and bigger. The two things worth seeing at the mall are home plate of the Met–and the seat where Frank Howard hit a 1500 foot HR (slight exaggeration).

Ok i could be a thousand percent wrong here, and i may look like a complete ***, but didnt Harmon Killebrew hit the 1500 ft homer?

Total brain fail; it was Killebrew and I know that. Circuits not connecting.

Zack-

Glad to hear that you are making a trip to MN. If you need any help other than what has been offered already, let me know. I’d say stay downtown (Visitors “usually” stay at the Marriott.) and catch the lightrail from the airport to downtown. Depending on time of day, trip should be less than 30 min and cost only a couple bucks one-way. It runs all day except from about 2-5 am and schedule depends upon time of day.

I was at the season ticket open house to Target Field this past weekend. Here are a few pics:

http://pbckt.com/sS.dNDo

Rich
“Your Barry Bonds card supplier” ;)

Big Glove Bob- FYI Saw Waldo this weekend, and he is not planning on going to any games due to “events” of last season and is a little “bitter” toward the Twins.

Forgot to mention one item I saw in the “Target Field Fan Guide” handed out this weekend:
PROHIBITED ITEMS: ball retrievers
They didn’t allow them at the dome anyhow, so I’m not surprised.

I hope to meet you in Cleveland on the 2nd. Only the right field seats are open for the first half hour so I will look for you there.
Greg

FATHER PUCK-
Sorry for the slow reply. Somehow these comments got lost in the shuffle. But anyway, thanks for letting me know about the mall vs. downtown. But seriously…museums? Not generally my thing. I’m more of a doer than a looker.

RICH-
Thanks for the advice and for the pics. The place looks great! (And hey, thanks again all these years later for the Bonds card.)

GREG-
Sounds good. Hope we run into each other…

Zach, if you need any assistance in or about Atlanta, let me know. Places to stay, suggestions, etc. Thanks!

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