Given the fact that I try to eat as much as possible before games, this late lunch on the way to Comerica Park was one of my finest efforts:
In addition to the mac-n-cheese, I had a fried chicken waffle sandwich with bacon and melted cheddar.
My friend Muneesh, who was with me once again, insisted my meal was at least 3,000 calories. I’m not sure about that, but I hope so. I can tell you, though, that it kept me full for the next eight hours, so I didn’t need to worry about eating during the game.
At around 4pm, I headed over to the stadium and ran into a couple of the regulars that I’d met the day before:
It was very cold, but you know who wasn’t concerned?
Half an hour later, this was the scene outside the left field gate:
Meanwhile, look where my friend Muneesh was:
That’s a photo that he took from the field during batting practice, before the stadium was officially open. As I mentioned in my last entry, he used to run a sports magazine in Detroit, and once again, he had a credential for this game.
Here’s another photo he took of Miguel Cabrera in the cage:
I’m going to share three more of his photos . . . just because. Here’s a bat in the dugout:
Here’s Tigers manager Brad Ausmus hitting a fungo:
Here’s Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick talking to Ray Fosse, the team’s radio and TV analyst:
Cool stuff. Many thanks to Muneesh for letting me post those photos.
When I got inside the stadium at 5pm, it didn’t take long to snag my first ball of the day. See it in the bullpen in the following photo?
I used my glove trick to knock it closer and then reeled it in.
The Tigers have been marking their BP balls for years, and this one was no exception:
(For a little while, they used to mark them like this. Yuck!) Some teams do that to prevent their own players and employees from stealing balls and getting them signed.
Several minutes later, Muneesh made it out to the left field seats and began taking photos of me. Here I am trying to stay warm:
In the previous photo, did you notice the other guy in the black jacket? That’s Bill Dugan, the fan who had recently snagged five foul balls in one game. The whole purpose of my trip to Detroit was to meet him and have a ballhawking competition, but that was done. Now we were just hanging out without worrying about the numbers.
Here I am snagging my second ball:
As you can see, it was on the bullpen roof, so I swung my glove out and knocked it closer.
Just after posing for this photo . . .
. . . I handed the ball to the nearest fan.
During the lull before the A’s started hitting, I wandered to the back of the left field seats:
Comerica Park has some quirky features and angles:
When the A’s finally came out, I got my third ball thrown by a player that I couldn’t identify, and look! It was a Florida Spring Training ball:
As it turned out, every ball I got during the Athletics’ portion of BP had that logo.
Before the rest of the stadium opened to the public, Muneesh headed over to right field and took the following photo:
Here I am a little while later:
In the previous photo, the guy wearing the blue drawstring backpack is named David. His son, standing on the right, is named Zach. David had attended the previous game, and I’d met him once before that. They were both really nice, and you’ll see more of Zach in just a bit.
My fourth ball was a home run to straight-away right field that I grabbed in the seats, and my fifth was a homer that another fan conveniently bobbled right to me.
Check out this amazing photo that Muneesh took of a hand reaching for a ball:
That was actually my hand! Here’s the un-zoomed version of that photo:
I ended up snagging that ball.
(See Zach in the background? I think he got more than half a dozen balls of his own.)
Back in left field, I caught two homers on the fly. For the first one, I reached far over the wall in the front row, and for the second, I climbed down over a row to get in position. I don’t know who hit any of these balls, BTW.
After BP, I caught up with Zach in right field and signed one of his baseballs:
Here are the six Spring Training balls that I’d gotten:
Okay, time to take a little trip down memory lane . . .
Do you happen to remember this photo of me with a guy named Dave, taken on 9/10/11 at Comerica Park? No? Well, how about this photo of me with him and his son, David, on 5/23/13 at Comerica Park? They’ve become a fixture of my visits to Detroit, and I always look forward to catching up with them. Here we are again:
In the photo above, I’m resting my arm on David, who’s standing next to his friend Jack. Great kids. And I absolutely adore Dave, pictured behind them. I was glad to see the boys snag a bunch of baseballs during BP.
At around 6:45pm, I caught up with a friendly usher named Jared and then headed down into the seats to try to get a toss-up:
Marcus Semien ended up with the ball and started walking toward the dugout, so I headed over there too and got him to hook me up. This, too, was a commemorative Spring Training ball. I gave that one to Muneesh, and I gave one of the regular balls to a kid later on.
Here’s what it looked like behind the dugout:
Stadium security never stopped me from going down there, and you know what? That’s how it oughta be in more places. There’s nothing I hate more inside a stadium than having my access restricted.
During the game, whenever left-handed batters were up, I hung out here in the cross-aisle:
The ball from Semien was my ninth of the day. I really wanted to reach double digits, and I hoped that I’d do it on a foul ball.
First, though, I signed a copy of my book The Baseball for this guy named Josh:
And *then* I snagged a foul ball:
It was a towering pop-up hit by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, which actually landed in the seats above/behind the cross-aisle. Inspired by Bill Dugan’s acrobatic maneuver for a Mark Canha foul ball the previous night, I hoisted myself up on the concrete ledge, jumped over the railing, and grabbed the ball underneath a chair. I did all of that while an obese man two seats away barely moved for it. He had his feet up on a chair and only went for the ball at the very last second as an afterthought.
Speaking of Bill, here’s a photo of him standing near me in the aisle:
On the other side, David and his friend Jack were camped out waiting for a foul ball:
And guess what? Jack ended up getting one later in the game.
Muneesh spent most of the night in the press box. Here’s a photo of the field that he took during the middle innings:
The heartbreaking moment of the night came on a foul ball that woulda/shoulda been a routine catch for me if not for the fact that I got blocked by the Tigers’ roving TV reporter, who happened to be doing a live interview in the aisle. I got caught up on the wrong side of him and tried to reach for it, but he flinched and kinda backed up into me and prevented me from catching it. How awesome would it have been to get that ball live on TV during that interview? Damn, damn, and more damn!
Here I am with Bill late in the game:
This was my view for righties:
This was my ninth lifetime game at Comerica, and I now had seven foul balls during games, so yeah, I wanted to snag another . . . and another . . . to bring my per-game foul ball average to one. (Or would that be 1.000 if we’re calculating it like a batting average?)
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. The A’s won the game, 5-1, behind a strong pitching performance by Rich Hill, and that was it:
Of the ten balls that I’d snagged, here are the seven that I kept:
Do you remember when I looked at a bunch of baseballs under black light? Well, one of the Spring Training balls had a beautiful invisible ink stamp:
Now I need to find my way back to Detroit so I can do a video there for my YouTube channel. It might happen sooner than you think . . .
• 10 baseballs at this game
• 128 balls in 14 games this season = 9.14 balls per game.
• 60 balls in 9 lifetime games at Comerica Park = 6.67 balls per game.
• 1,180 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 8,761 total balls
On a final note, my fundraiser for Pitch In For Baseball is now in its eighth season. Once again, people are pledging money for every home run ball that I snag during games. Here’s some info about the fundraiser, and if you donate, you’ll be eligible to win one of these prizes.