9/22/12 at Kauffman Stadium
Remember when I said in a recent entry that I’m “not exactly the museum type”? Well, I have to admit that I saw something pretty cool inside the Royals Hall of Fame. Check it out:
I got a good look at that ball while waiting for the “Early Bird Tour” to get underway. (And BTW, let me say now that Robin wasn’t with me. She chose to hang out with her family — the nerve!! — so I was at this game by myself.)
Because it was a Saturday, there was a much bigger crowd than usual . . .
. . . but thankfully, 90 percent of those people went to the seats behind the Royals’ dugout.
Things were much more peaceful on the Indians’ side:
There were just a handful of fans hanging out near me, most of whom were interested in autographs, so I had *no* competition when chasing these two baseballs:
A right-handed batter on the Royals (not sure who) yanked them both into the seats near the foul pole, so all I had to do was run through the empty rows and find them. (The first of these two balls was my 100th lifetime ball at Kauffman Stadium. Woot-woot!) This may sound funny, but the most challenging part of the “tour” was figuring out when to wear/hide my Indians cap; although the Royals were hitting, several Indians were milling about, so I wanted to present myself as a worthy baseball recipient to everyone.
I removed my cap just in time to get Royals 3rd base coach Eddie Rodriguez to toss me my 3rd ball of the day. I was concerned that the Indians saw me do it, but evidently they hadn’t noticed, and soon after, I got Ball No. 4 from bullpen catcher Armando Camacaro. Here he is leaning on the dugout railing:
Eventually the Royals cleared the field, and the rest of the Indians came out to get loose:
After a few minutes, one of the players walked over to the basket of balls and attempted to juggle three of them. I wish I knew who it was because he really sucked at it — surprising, given the fact that he’s a professional athlete — and I’d like to call him out on it. In any case, I walked through the front row so that he was right in front of me, and I said, “Let me show you how it’s done.” Then I made a gesture to indicate that I needed three balls and said, “I’ll give them back.” Several of his teammates were standing nearby and got a kick out of the fact that a fan was challenging him. One of them (again, no idea who) responded by walking over to the basket and tossing me three brand-new balls, one by one. I bare-handed them and promptly started juggling — nothing fancy. Just some straight-up three-ball action, causing one of the players to shout, “Y’gotta do some tricks!” So I did. I juggled so that two of the balls went up at the same time and then just before I caught them, I’d toss the third ball up in the middle. Can you picture that? Two on the sides, one in the middle, two on the sides, one in the middle . . . and so on. After 10 seconds, I dropped them and got laughed at, but in a friendly way. I’d clearly won them over. And then I tossed the balls back to them. I could’ve been a dick and kept them, or I could’ve asked to keep one, and they probably would’ve let me. I could even make a case now that I should at least be able to count the balls in my grand total, but I will do no such thing. Over the years, there’ve been some questionable balls that I *have* counted, and there’ve been (many more) questionable balls that I haven’t. This juggling situation falls into the latter category. Case closed.
The rest of the stadium opened just before the Indians started hitting, so I bolted to the left field seats. Once I got there, I saw a ball get thrown wildly and roll to the base of the wall along the foul line:
Thinking I was going to get to use my glove trick, I ran over and took a peek down at the ball:
It was partially obscured by the overhang of the padding, but I still felt that I could get it. Before I had a chance to find out, this guy walked over and picked it up and handed it to me:
Any idea who he is? I’d really like to know because this was my 6,400th lifetime ball.
Five minutes later, all the Indians started playing catch . . .
. . . and I got my 6th ball of the day tossed by Tony Sipp.
I figured I was well on my way to hitting double digits. I mean, the Indians’ portion of BP was just getting underway, and I only needed four more balls, but incredibly, I didn’t snag anything else for the rest of the day! The cross-aisle in left field was crowded . . .
. . . and the Indians only hit a few homers. Then, to make matters worse, I wasn’t allowed to reach into the fountain to grab this ball:
I was told that I’d be ejected for simply touching the ball with my hand. Why? Because THAT’S THE RULE. But why is that the rule? Because, according to a security supervisor, “You could get hurt.” (Really? Then why was I allowed to fish all those balls out of the fountains in 2009?) Sorry but that is the biggest crock of shyte. You mean to tell me that it’s okay for fans to jump over the railings and pummel each other for baseballs on the batters’ eyes at Ameriquest and Citi Fields — that it’s perfectly safe for fans to bring light bulb changers into AT&T Park and use them to jab at baseballs that roll onto the warning track — but it’s somehow dangerous to reach through a railing and pick up a ball that’s floating in the water? That’s pathetic. If the Royals don’t want fans reaching (or jumping) into the fountains, then they should station an employee on each walkway (one in left field and another in right) with one of these and give the rescued balls to kids, who would treasure them. That seems like a better alternative than threatening fans with ejection and allowing the balls to sink. And while the employees are at it, they could clear out all the dead crickets and floating garbage. Those fountains are beautiful from afar but nasty up close, and the Royals clearly don’t give a damn. It’s quite a shame because the stadium is otherwise glorious.
After batting practice, I saw some funny graffiti in a bathroom stall:
Prior to game time, I ended up here:
See the guard in the photo above? When he saw me pull out my camera, he offered to move out of the way for me. No joke. I seriously couldn’t believe it. In New York . . . well, at Yankee Stadium, I would’ve had to pay $500 and provide a background check to be there, and at Citi Field . . . oh, who cares.
I spent the entire game in the outfield. More specifically, I positioned myself in left field for every right-handed batter and in right field for every lefty. This was the view from right field:
Not great. Not bad. Right? (The view of the field, that is.)
Well, get ready to start thinking about moving to Kansas City.
This was the view to my left . . .
. . . and to my right:
And UN-fortunate. There was only one home run hit all night — a 378-foot blast by Cord Phelps that landed in the left field bullpen.
Someday I’m *going* to catch a home run at Kauffman Stadium. I just need to be there when there’s a visiting team (and hey, maybe even a home team) that doesn’t suck.
With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, I decided to go for an umpire ball and ran into this guy along the 3rd base line:
His name is Tang, and he’s a regular at Kauffman Stadium. He and I met in Philadelphia earlier this season. Nice guy. Talented ballhawk. Just getting started at college.
After the final out of the Royals’ 5-3 victory (in which Billy Butler collected his 100th RBI of the season), I failed to get a ball from the ump.
Then I moved two sections to my right . . .
. . . and failed to get a ball from the Indians’ relievers when they walked in from the bullpen. (I also failed to get Jeff Francoeur’s warm-up ball in the 6th inning, but screw it, I don’t feel like talking about it.)
The highlight of the day was meeting up with my friend “Big Glove Bob” . . .
. . . and getting a ride with him back to Robin’s place. He is one funny dude. At one point during the ride, we found ourselves trapped on a single-lane road behind a car that was shakily traveling 23 miles per hour. The speed limit was 40, and Bob was convinced that the driver was drunk. When the single lane opened up into two and the car in front of us stopped at a red light, Bob pulled up alongside it. There was a young woman at the wheel, and she was texting.
“HOW DRUNK ARE YOU?!?!?!” screamed Bob through my open window.
The woman didn’t look up.
“HEY!!!!!!” screamed Bob so loudly that I was temporarily deafened. “HOW DRUNK ARE YOU?!?!?!?!”
The woman shook her head but never looked up. Bob yelled at bit more at her. Then the light turned green and we sped off in front of her.
I need to go on a road trip with this man. I’m almost laughing just thinking about it.
• 582 balls in 72 games this season = 8.08 balls per game.
• 864 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 389 consecutive games with at least two balls
• 9 stadiums with 100 or more balls (Shea, Citi, Old Yankee, New Yankee, Camden, Citizens Bank, Nationals, Turner, and Kauffman)
• 6,401 total balls
(I’m raising money again this season for Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. Click here to learn more about my fundraiser, and click here to see the prizes that I’ll be giving away to donors.)
• 45 donors
• $2.72 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $16.32 raised at this game
• $1,583.04 raised this season
• $20,740.04 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009