5/2/10 at Progressive Field

Sunny days without batting practice are the worst. This is what I saw when I arrived at the stadium and peeked through the left field gate:

1_no_batting_practice_05_02_10.jpg

I took my time walking over to Gate C (on the right field side). There were a couple dozen fans when I got there. Normally, I try to make sure that I’m the first one to enter, but in this case it didn’t matter, so I waited patiently as everyone filed into the stadium ahead of me:

2_entering_gate_c.JPG

This was my first look at the field:

3_deep_in_right_field_05_02_10.JPG

Yawn.

Moments after I made it down to the front row, I heard a voice from behind say my name. I turned around and saw a familiar face. It was a guy from Akron, Ohio named Dan Cox. He and I had met once before on 6/17/08 at Coors Field. (That was the day that a reporter and photographer from the Associated Press were following me around, and Dan actually ended up with his picture in the article. If you click here, you can see him in the top photo standing just over my left shoulder with a red shirt.) We kept in touch, and he recently told me that he was going to attend this game. Here we are:

4_dan_cox_and_zack.JPG

Oh yeah, I should probably mention that I snagged two baseballs. Several Twins pitchers had come out to play catch, and when they were finishing, I convinced Jesse Crain to hook me up by telling him that I had a good knuckleball and wanted to show him. He threw me

4a_jesse_crain_2010.jpg

a mediocre knuckler and then waved toward himself with his glove as if to say, “C’mon, let’s see what you got.” I threw him my best knuckler, which turned out to be as bad as his (oops), and it kept going from there. We played catch for about 30 seconds, throwing nothing but so-so knuckleballs. Unfortunately, it all happened so fast that by the time I thought about handing my camera to Dan, it was too late. Then, two minutes later, Crain saw one of his teammates — I’m not sure who — toss me another ball. Before Crain could protest, I told him that I would give it to a kid, and I kept my promise.

Gate C had opened at 11:30am. The rest of the stadium opened at noon, and when it did, Dan and I moved to the left field foul line. I positioned myself in the front row while Kevin Slowey (pictured below with his leg up) played catch with Scott Baker:

5_kevin_slowey_throwing.JPG

Dan stayed a couple rows back, and at one point, I turned around to look at him. This is what I saw:

6_ball4395_easter_egg.JPG

Yeah, there was a ball just sitting there. There were even a few other fans nearby, but no one saw it. I moved toward it slowly and picked it up. No one noticed. I showed Dan, and we both shrugged.

Once the players cleared the field, it was time to wander and take pics. I started by walking through the cross-aisle toward the left field corner:

7_progressive_cross_aisle.JPG

The aisle isn’t great for foul balls because, as you can see, it’s tucked slightly under the overhang of the second deck. That said, foul balls do shoot back there behind the plate.

I headed to the upper deck…

8_view_from_progressive_upper_deck.JPG

…and walked through the concourse…

9_progressive_upper_deck_concourse.JPG

…and then went down to the front row. Check out the third base dugout:

10_progressive_dugout_from_above.JPG

See that red area right behind it? No, it’s not a carpet. It’s just painted concrete, but it’s still pretty cool and functions like a cross-aisle. The seats behind it are very exclusive. It’s the “Mercedes Benz Front Row,” and you can’t go there without a ticket.

I walked up to the last row directly behind home plate…

11_progressive_upper_deck_last_row.JPG

…and then took a couple photos, which I later combined to make a panorama:

12_progressive_panorama.jpg

On my way back down to the Home Run Porch in left field, I poked my head into the suite level. Check it out:

13_progressive_club_level_concourse.JPG

There was so much room to run during the game. I was in heaven. For left-handed batters, I alternated between the seats on the third base side…

14_third_base_side_05_02_10.JPG

…and in right-center:

15_right_field_during_game_05_02_10.JPG

For all righties, I stood toward the back of the Home Run Porch. This was my view:

16a_view_from_home_run_porch.JPG

(That’s Dan standing in front of me with the glove.)

The view was not as bad as you might think. I could actually see the batters in between the people standing at the front. Here’s a close-up of the previous photo. It’ll show you what I mean:

16b_view_from_home_run_porch.jpg

In the top of the 5th inning, Jim Thome connected on his 569th career home run, tying him with Rafael Palmeiro (BOO!!!) for 11th place all time. The ball landed in a gap directly behind the wall in dead center. Here’s a photo of that area from above:

17_heritage_park_from_above.JPG

If the ball had traveled five feet farther, it would have landed in the trees, and I might have been able to reach under the fence for it on the lower level of Heritage Park. But no, Chris Perez walked over from the Indians’ bullpen and picked it up, and that was the end of it.

Here’s a photo of the Home Run Porch from above:

18_home_run_porch_from_above.JPG

Is that beautiful or what? It doesn’t matter if your ticketed seat is in the last row of the upper deck. If you want to hang out on the Porch, you’re welcome to do so. Bravo, Indians, for making the fan experience so laid-back and positive. (As for the quality of the team, that’s another story.)

Have you heard about the Indians fan who sits in the last row of the bleachers and bangs a drum? (That sounds like the opening line of a joke, but I’m being serious.) He’s been going to games forever, and he’s done lots of interviews of the years. The reason why I’m mentioning him is that I went up there to say hello. Here he is focusing on the game…

19_john_adams_watching_the_game.JPG

…and here I am with him:

20_zack_and_john_adams.JPG

His name is John Adams, and he’s a legend. This was his 2,917th game. He has missed just 37 games in 36 years. I asked if the Indians still make him buy an extra seat for his drum. He said it’s not an issue because he has four season tickets. I asked if the Indians ever told him not to bang the drum when the ball is in play or if that’s his own decision. He said he decided on his own out of respect for the game. I asked if he ever snagged a home run ball that landed on a staircase and bounced all the way to the back row. The answer is no. Anyway, go say hi to him if you’re ever at Progressive Field. He’s incredibly friendly and chatty, and he told me that he enjoys the opportunity to talk to so many people.

I was back on the Porch in the bottom of the 7th, when Asdrubal Cabrera lifted a deep fly ball down the line. I drifted forward to the railing at the front. The ball was coming…coming…and I had it lined up perfectly. It was going to be the easiest catch ever, but dammit, it ended up falling about ten feet short and bouncing high off the wall for a double. Here’s a screen shot that shows the action:

21_screen_shot_05_02_10.jpg

The UP arrow is pointing at me, the LEFT arrow is pointing at Dan, and the DOWN arrow is pointing to a fan who’s really, really, really into the game. I love it. It’s like a full-body maneuver to peek around the wall from that little nook.

The Twins won the game, 8-3, behind a solid, seven-inning performance by Francisco Liriano. Catcher Wilson Ramos, filling in for the injured Joe Mauer, went 4-for-5 in his major league debut. Delmon Young also went 4-for-5 (with a homer) as Minnesota combined for 20 hits.

I ended up getting one more ball after the game behind the Twins’ dugout. I don’t know who provided it. It was flipped up randomly from under the roof. So…I ended the day with four balls — fewer balls than the winning team had runs — which means I took my first “loss” of the season. At 3-1, my Ballhawk Winning Percentage is now .750.

SNAGGING STATS:

22_the_3_i_kept_05_02_10.JPG

• 4 balls at this game (3 pictured on the right because I gave one away)

• 38 balls in 4 games this season = 9.5 balls per game.

• 633 consecutive games with at least one ball

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

• 4,396 total balls

CHARITY STATS:

• 25 donors (click here and scroll down to see who has pledged)

• $2.91 pledged per ball (if you add up all 25 pledges)

• $11.64 raised at this game

• $110.58 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball

17 Comments

i hope this entry doesn’t get lost in the mix of MLBlog entries with the tag “i don’t wanna work i just wanna bang on my drum all day.” that would be a travesty. would John allow a kid to bang on his drum? I bet Tim would enjoy adding his drum to the list of famous ballpark items he’s banged on — i.e., Freddy Sez’s metal plate and Cowbell Man’s cow bell.
-Todd
http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Zack, Gustavo watch update! The Astros just purchased Gustavo Chacin’s contract and added him to their Major League Bullpen. Anyway you can remove the Hample jinx? HAHA…the Astros need all the help they can get right now.

Good entry! I can’t wait to get to get to that ballpark. I am going to be in Cleveland 8/26-8/30 and plan on going to the 8/28 game. After reading these two entries as well as all the entries Erik Jabs has done, I am stoked to check out Heritage Park. Great job & good luck in Minnesota!
Brian

Zack,

I think i found something that may be worthy of mention in your book. Justin Bieber catches foul ball. http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/ZOMG-Justin-Bieber-tosses-first-pitch-grabs-fo?urn=mlb,238498

HOWIE
http://howie.mlblogs.com/

2 things here:
a) I may have just missed it, but did you ever mention your passing of Pete Rose?
b) does anyone have a picture of the right field wall in foul territory at the old Yankee Stadium (around where that protective net just beyond where the tarp was.)
If you do, i would really appreciate it if you emailed it to puckcollector@optonline.net
And Zack, I already checked all of your blog entries from Yankee Stadium, and you dont have a picture that could help me.

Hey Zack,
I was at US Cellular yesterday and glove tricked 3 balls, but right after that one old security you mentioned when you were there walked over and picked up all the other balls (out of reach ones) and questioned all of us by the bullpen. It was hilarious. lol
-Pete

EVERYONE-
Thanks for the comments on the last two entries. I’ll answer them at some point. I’ve been so busy on this trip that it’s been hard to keep up with the blog, but I’m hoping to post about the May 3rd game at some point this evening. I was at Target Field yesterday, and it was pretty rough. Right now, it’s 9:10am here in Minneapolis, and I have to leave for the game. It’s a 12:05pm game today, so there probably won’t be BP. I’m just hoping to get ONE ball and keep the streak alive — not a guarantee for this place.

Zack,

If anyone can get a baseball at Target Field, Im sure you can.

Hey, I wanted to drop you a line though. I was at Cellular ( May 4th ) and I had come across one of your blogs about this Cup N` Ball guy. He had a cup with a rubberband around the end with a string, and he lowers the cup onto the ball, and snagged it! You had mentioned this guy so I wanted to let you know that I met him. He was very skittish though because I guess security gives him a really hard time about his cup N Ball. So I was calling out to him, and he wanted to run! Anyway. Good luck at Target Field.

Much respect,

Wayne

Oh Zack, almost forgot to ask. Are you chasing Andruw Jones 400th career homer? He’s currently sitting at 396.

Thanks,

Wayne

TODD-
John would probably allow some bangin’. He’s a really cool guy.

STEPHEN-
Remove the jinx? Never!

BRIAN-
Thanks. You’re gonna love it there.

HOWIE-
Wow, I hadn’t heard about that. Thanks so much.

PUCK COLLECTOR-
Yeah, I passed Rose last year at Camden Yards and *did* mention it on the blog.

PETE-
Too funny. Congrats on the three you got.

WAYNE-
That’s cool that you ran into him. Thanks for the “good luck” wishes. As for Andruw, I’m not planning on going after No. 400 mainly because I’m too busy with the book.

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 307 other followers