5/23/13 at Comerica Park
This was my 7th lifetime game at Comerica Park, and for the 4th time, rain wiped out batting practice. What fun.
Several minutes after I entered the stadium, two Tigers began playing catch in shallow left field. If you look closely at the following photo, you can see them in the distance:
See the guy in the red sweatshirt? That’s a season ticket holder named Dave. See the kid in the orange shirt in the front row? That’s his nine-year-old son David. They live in Michigan, but I met them several years ago at Camden Yards, and we’ve become friends. One of the highlights of this day was getting to see them and catch up.
Dave and David know all about my baseball collection, and they wanted to help me keep my streak alive. Therefore, they not only helped me identify the two guys playing catch — Anibal Sanchez and bullpen catcher Jeff Kunkel — but they graciously stepped aside and let me go for the ball. Because I was the only fan asking for it, I ended up getting it from Sanchez.
Ten minutes later, when Max Scherzer began warming up in deeper left field, I returned the favor by letting David go for the ball. Here he is waiting for it . . .
. . . and not surprisingly, he ended up getting it. (For the record, he made a nice lunging catch over the railing.)
After that, there was NO sign of life on the field for the next hour and a half — no players, no groundskeepers, nothing. The game was clearly going to be delayed, if not canceled altogether.
Officially, the temperature was somewhere in the 40s, but it felt much colder. I could see my breath, but couldn’t feel my hands, and quite frankly, I wished I weren’t even there. I asked Dave if there was a place in the stadium where I could go indoors and stay warm, and he sent me here:
In the photo above, do you see the red “Captain Morgan” sign? That’s where I went, and here’s what it looked like inside:
As you can see, the place was packed, but hey, whatever. I had no intention of eating or drinking anything. I just stood off to the side, and eventually Dave and David came and found me. We hung out there for at least half an hour, then headed back to the main part of the stadium and had our picture taken:
There ended up being an hourlong rain delay. Just before the game started, I noticed that a player wearing No. 5 in the Twins’ dugout had two baseballs in his back pocket. Here he is:
I quickly looked at the rosters that I’d printed, learned that the guy’s name was Eduardo Escobar, and got him to toss me a ball by asking for it in Spanish.
This was my view when the game started:
Look how much room there was to run for foul balls:
In my previous six games at Comerica, I’d snagged five foul balls. I was convinced that I’d get one at this game, if not two . . . or ten. There was no competition. I was moving freely back and forth through the cross-aisle for lefties and righties. The circumstances were ideal, but as the first inning was winding down, I had nothing.
It was time for Plan B, namely to work the Twins’ dugout for a 3rd-out ball. This was my view when Miguel Cabrera came to bat with one out in the bottom of the 1st:
Normally, I would’ve waited until there were two outs to head down there, but because there was a runner on first base, I decided to get a head start in case Miggy hit into a double play.
He crushed a two-run homer to left field instead.
Prince Fielder followed by popping out to first base. Victor Martinez kept the inning alive with a ground-ball single up the middle, and Jhonny Peralta took a called third strike. Ugh! Twins catcher Joe Mauer ended up with the ball and tossed it into the crowd near the home-plate end of the dugout.
Guess who got the 3rd-out ball at the Tigers’ dugout after the top of the 2nd inning? Not me! David managed to work his way down there, and when Aaron Hicks went down swinging, he got hooked up by Tigers catcher Brayan Pena. It was the first game-used ball that he’d ever snagged. Very cool. I was glad to be there to witness it.
As for me, I didn’t get anything in the 2nd inning, but when Cabrera struck out to end the 3rd, I got Joe Mauer to toss me the ball! That felt good, not only because I’d always wanted to get one from him, but because it also raised $500 for Pitch In For Baseball. (That’s the amount of money that BIGS Sunflower Seeds is donating this season for every stadium at which I snag a gamer.)
David and I had our picture taken with our game-used baseballs . . .
. . . and then we headed to the right field seats. He and his father sat in front of me (so that I’d have room to run in case a home run flew my way). This was my view:
Did you notice the shirt that David was wearing? Neal Stewart from BIGS Sunflower Seeds happened to have an extra one, and David was the lucky recipient. (The fact that Dave helped us get free parking and did several other favors might’ve had something to do with it.) I hear that there are still a few extras, so if you’re interested, give BIGS a shout on Twitter.
As for my seat in the outfield, this was the view to my left . . .
. . . and to my right:
I had all kinds of room to run, but of course there were no home runs hit anywhere near me, and to make matters worse, two foul balls went *right* to the spot where I’d initially been standing for every right-handed batter. I have no doubt that I would’ve caught them both on the fly.
Earlier in the game, I met a guy named Paul who recognized me and knew about my BIGS Baseball Adventure. He was there with three kids, and I caught up with them in the 7th inning:
In the photo above, that’s Paul on the left. The girl in the white hoodie is his daughter Casey. The young man in the red hoodie is his son Tyler, and the kid on the right is Tyler’s friend Sean. Good people. I was glad they said hey but sorry that we didn’t have more time to talk.
It was so cold in the outfield (with the wind whipping all over the place) that I truly couldn’t take it, so I moved back to the cross-aisle behind home plate. No foul balls. No umpire ball. No post-game ball at the Tigers’ dugout. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Adios. Good night. See ya later, Detroit.
• 235 balls in 31 games this season = 7.58 balls per game.
• 40 balls in 7 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 5.7 balls per game.
• 903 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 16 stadiums this season with a game-used ball: Citi Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, PETCO Park, AT&T Park, Safeco Field, Kauffman Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, Minute Maid Park, Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular Field, and Comerica Park
• 6,694 total balls
(For every stadium this season at which I snag a game-used ball, BIGS Sunflower Seeds will donate $500 to Pitch In For Baseball, a non-profit charity that provides baseball equipment to underprivileged kids all over the world. In addition to that, I’m doing my own fundraiser again this season for Pitch In For Baseball.)
• 27 donors for my fundraiser
• $1.68 pledged per ball (if you add up all the pledges)
• $5.04 raised at this game
• $394.80 raised this season through my fundraiser
• $8,000 from BIGS Sunflower Seeds for my game-used baseballs
• $29,800.80 raised since I started my fundraiser in 2009