At the beginning of the season, I listed/wrote down a whole bunch of dates that would be good to head up to Arlington to catch a game. Well, throughout the summer, we weren’t able to go, and school had just started, so the only possible dates now were only Saturday games. I started thinking about September games, but while I was in school on Friday during the first week of school, my dad texted me this. Woo-hoo.
We left the next morning for the 7:05 game around 10 AM. The Rangers were going to face the Baltimore Orioles, and at the time, the Astros were in the midst of a late season playoff race, with the Rangers being one of the teams that we were trying to fight off, so of course as good fans, we BOTH were dressed in Orioles’ gear. Now, the last time that we were in Arlington, the stadium was still called “Rangers Ballpark”, and I suffered a scary experience, as a ball in the outfield took an awful bounce, and hit me right below my left eye. Thankfully, I didn’t get too much of a black eye, it was barely noticeable, but still, scary. We arrived in Arlington around 2 PM, and the gates were scheduled to open at 5 PM, so we grabbed something to eat. After that, with nothing better to do, we headed off to the Stadium. The area was very busy, as next door at AT&T stadium, there was a college football game going on, but it didn’t effect us too much.
We got in line around 4, and I noticed that there were lots of Orioles’ fans walking around the Ballpark, that concerned me a bit, because of competition, but I tried my best to shrug it off. Finally, after an hour of waiting, the gates open, and I ran to claim a spot in the left field corner because I felt like I had plenty of chances there. It didn’t take me too long to get on the board, as I saw Adam Jones shagging balls right near me, all I did was call to him, and he tossed it one right up. Thanks, Adam! The O’s weren’t hitting much out of the park (just like when I saw them here in Houston, they were dead that day too), so I started relying on tossups. Another ball soon rolled up to the wall and unfortunately I didn’t know who the player was, but my O’s hat helped tremendously as I got him to toss it to me anyways. Thanks, Random O’s Player! That was it for BP, as my dad didn’t get anything, so I was stuck at 2 for the day.
I hung out by the 3rd base line to decompress my mind from the sub-par BP, and possibly to get a pre-game tossup. I waited there for about a good half-hour, and passed the time by checking the scores of earlier games that day, and taking this pretty badass panoramic pic of the stadium. The O’s came out around 6:45 and started throwing, and I decided to “play deep”, because the first few rows were jammed packed with O’s fans (most of them were there for autographs), so I hoped that my plan wouldn’t backfire. I waited pretty patiently, and happened to snap this cool pic while I was waiting. After the national anthem, only two groups of players were throwing, and one of the groups had Manny Machado. I kept a close eye on him. With the ball still in hand as he started walking back to the dugout, he looked up towards MY direction, and I started waving my hands like crazy and shouting his name. From 20 rows back, he flung it to me, and thankfully nobody reached after it, so I caught it for my third ball of the day. Thanks, Manny! I headed back to find my dad, and we found some pretty good seats in the lower level, because there was no way we were going to where our ticketed seats in the Upper Deck. Now, the game started, and around the 3rd inning, I headed up to the concourse to get a water. I bought it, and I started to head back to “my seat”, but on the way back, I was stopped by an usher who asked for my ticket. Therefore, I couldn’t go back, and decided to make the best of it. Out in Left Field, there’s a standing room area which is a GREAT spot for home runs (that is, if you have power) so I camped out there for 2 innings with visions of catching a Adrian Beltre home run. Unfortunately, I had no luck, and by that time, my legs were killing me, so in desperation of a seat, I called my dad, and told him to meet up with me in the Upper Deck seats. Ironically, some family were sitting in OUR SEATS. So we found better ones. Sitting the last row is always a cool experience as I can focus on the game, and take my mind off of ballhawking for a bit. I thought about going for a 3rd out ball later in the game, but after seeing from up top that EVERY SINGLE SEAT NEAR THE DUGOUT was taken, I abandoned that idea quickly. If I remember correctly, the O’s jumped out to an 3-0 lead around the 5th inning before the Rangers came back to tie it, and take the lead in the 6th or 7th. Towards the end of the game, as the Rangers led 4-3, I headed back to the lower level in hopes of possibly getting an umpire ball. In the bottom of the 9th, we found two empty seats right near the umpire exit in Section 21. The O’s tried to come back, but the Rangers closer, Shawn Tolleson prevented that, as they won, 4-3. We both headed towards the tunnel, and I tried to get closer by getting on the side of the tunnel, when an usher prevented me. I tried to bypass her, but when I took a step to the left, she did so also! WTF. the umpire was approaching, but I was trapped now in a terrible spot. I had no chance, but thankfully somehow my dad found a really good spot, and was able to get home plate umpire, David Rackley, to toss him a ball! Thanks, David! That gave us our 4th, and final ball of the day. I was still pretty pissed by that usher as I headed up the steps, because that had never ever happened in my previous games at the stadium. Now as we were leaving, I remembered that in my last game I was able to get the lineup card from the visiting team’s bullpen, so I was hoping that the O’s had left theirs at that game. Sure enough, they did and I got a groundskeeper to give it to me. That REALLY brightened up my mood, and I guess, made up for the failed umpire ball (for me). Overall, I had a nice time in Arlington (except for that bloody usher), as we snagged 4 baseballs, got the lineup card, and a whole day’s worth of memories. (Also, I didn’t get hurt this time around, so HELL YES.) Until 2016. Arlington, thanks for hosting me for a day, but GO ASTROS!
STATS (after the August 29th game)
- 4 balls at this game
- 118 balls this season in 24 games (4.91 average)
- 45 consecutive games with at least one ball
- 7 consecutive games outside of Houston with at least one ball
- 32 lifetime balls outside of Houston
- 392 lifetime balls
- Attendance: 29,768