Tagged: 2015

2015: My Ballhawking Year In Review

APRIL: 21 balls in 3 games

  • Tuesday, April 14th VS A’s- 12 snagged
  • Saturday, April 18th VS Angels- 3 snagged
  • Thursday, April 30th VS Mariners- 6 snagged

In April, I knew after our first game, we were going to have a good year. We snagged 12, (breaking our single-game record on the first game of the year?!) therefore having the best average on mygameballs.com for two days, hah. Our second game, it was a crowded weekend game against the Angels, and it was 1965 throwback night. That was COOL, seeing the grounds crew in Astronaut suits (they did that in the Astrodome too) and the giveaway? Amazing. Snagged 3 that night. Our 3rd game, was a weeknight game against the Mariners, and it was gorgeous that night. Snagged 6.

MAY: 36 balls in 3 games

  • Sunday, May 3rd VS Mariners- 2 snagged
  • Tuesday, May 5th VS Rangers- 4 snagged
  • Wednesday, May 13th VS Giants- 6 snagged
  • Friday, May 15th VS Blue Jays- 11 snagged
  • Saturday, May 16th VS Blue Jays- 4 snagged
  • Friday, May 29th VS White Sox- 9 snagged

I ended up going to the last game of the 4 game series on that Sunday against the Mariners, but even with no BP, I snagged two. The next two games, (5/5 Cinco de Mayo against the Rangers, 5/13 against the Giants) I have very little/no recollection of them, except the fact that we snagged our 300th ball on the 4 ball night and 6 at the Giants game. Two days later, we went to a Friday night game in against the Blue Jays, in which everything was going right. We snagged 11 (our 2nd double digit game of the year.) and ended up going the next day too, and snagged 4. Our last game of May, was another one in which everything clicked, we snagged 9 that day, giving us a new record for most balls snagged in a month. The major thing though, was that I snagged a Jose Altuve Foul ball that day, and was included in my Top 5 Baseballs Snagged (So Far) blog post.

JUNE- 27 balls in 5 games 

  • Monday, June 1st VS Orioles- 5 snagged
  • Friday, June 12th VS Mariners- 9 snagged
  • Monday, June 15th VS Rockies- 3 snagged
  • Thursday, June 25th VS Yankees- 2 snagged
  • Monday, June 29th VS Royals- 8 snagged

The first game of the month was a BEAUTIFUL day. It was against the Orioles and I remember that their BP was awful. On the bright side, it was on this day that I met Erik Jabs, a fellow ballhawk who was in town, but we didn’t get a picture! Next time hopefully. The next game was a Friday night against the Mariners, and it was Carlos Correa’s home debut. What a night. He homered, and the Astros scored 8 runs in the first off “King” Felix Hernandez to knock him out of the game. Even better, we snagged 9 that day. (I also met the legendary mascot, Orbit. I love him.) Three days later, we tried to take advantage of the park as a tropical storm was coming towards Houston that night, and we thought that nobody would go, so naturally, we went to the game! Attendance was indeed low, but we only snagged 3. Rockies BP sucked. Our next game, was a game against the Yankees. Ballhawking nightmare. People all over the place, and honestly I thought I was going to be shutout, until the last 5 minutes, I snagged a BP homer on the fly. Only snagged 2 that day. 4 days later, in a game against the Royals (their fans travel well, that’s what a World Series appearance does) we made up for the sub-par last two games, by snagging 8. Nice month.

JULY- 17 balls in 4 games

  • Friday, July 10th (Astros @ Rays, Tropicana Field)- 6 snagged
  • Friday, July 17th VS Rangers- 5 snagged
  • Wednesday, July 22nd VS Red Sox- 1 snagged
  • Thursday, July 30th VS Angels- 5 snagged

A road trip to Florida (to go to Disney) also led to me asking to visit Tropicana Field, in which we did. Coincidentally, the Astros were in town! I blogged about it (my 1st post of 2015), but in summary; Turf was ugly, ballpark lacks a lot, the Astros lost (sad face), and we snagged 6. A week later back in Houston, in a game against the Rangers, we snagged 5. A few days later, the Red Sox were in town. I knew it would be tough, but I had to go. With attending that game, I have now seen ALL 30 TEAMS. I was lucky enough to snag 1 ball that day (a before the inning warm-up ball), as it was crowded, and got shutout in BP. The last game in the month that I attended, it was against the Angels. I don’t remember much about this game other than the fact that we snagged our 100th ball of the season.

AUGUST- 17 balls in 6 games

  • Saturday, August 1st VS D-Backs- 1 Snagged
  • Friday, August 14th VS Tigers- 3 Snagged
  • Monday, August 17th VS Rays- 3 Snagged
  • Thursday, August 20th VS Rays- 5 Snagged
  • Sunday, August 23rd VS Dodgers- 1 Snagged
  • Saturday, August 29th (Rangers VS Orioles, Globe Life Park)- 4 Snagged

What a slow month. The first game of this month was a Graig Biggio replica jersey giveaway day. OMG, the lines were bigger than I had thought that day. Plus, it was a Saturday, and it was crowded to the max, but I managed to snag 1 that day. The next games were rough. A crowded Friday night game against the Tigers, we only snagged 3, and we decided to go to a Monday night game against the Rays because tickets were CHEAP (no one wants to see the Rays), and the paid attendance ended up being only 16,256. We snagged 3 too on that day. We went back 3 days later for the last game of the 4-game series against the Rays, and fared better, snagging 5, but as for the game itself, Chris Archer threw a 1-hitter. Remarkably, the next day, the new acquire the Astros got from a trade, Mike Fiers, threw a no-hitter against the Dodgers. We ended up going to the last game of that series, a Sunday game, in which I snagged 1, keeping the streak alive. The next weekend, we took a trip to Arlington (2nd blog post of the season), in which we snagged 4.

SEPTEMBER- 22 balls in 4 games

  • Tuesday, September 1st VS Mariners- 8 snagged
  • Monday, September 21st VS Angels- 11 snagged
  • Saturday, September 26th VS Rangers- 1 snagged
  • Sunday, September 27th VS Rangers- 4 snagged

I thought I was in for a really good month, the Astros were leading the West on their way to the playoffs for the first time in ten years and the first game against the Mariners, we snagged 8, but the Astros blew the game (and their AL West lead that month). My next scheduled game then was supposed to be on Saturday, September 19th, when a ballhawk from Minnesota, Tony Voda, would be in town (it’s very rare for me to have ballhawkers from out of town come by, since Houston is far from the popular cities) and he wanted me to be on his podcast. It was a good date, and I had it on my schedule already, so why not? I was ready, but my body thought otherwise. A week before the game, I had some pain in my lower right abdominal, which ended up being appendicitis. I ended up had surgery, and despite pleas to my parents to go, I couldn’t attend. It really bummed me out, but I felt good when my tips went to good work when Tony snagged 9 that day (he would have had less if I were there, just saying) I’m sure we’ll meet someday though. 3 days after that game though, I semi-heartedly went to the Astros game against the Angels to ballhawk. I was basically un-mobile, as I couldn’t run as I was still recovering, but somehow, even by walking, I was at the right places, at the right times, and combined we snagged 11 that day. Even disabled, I’m still so good, hah. The next two games we went to were a few days later, part of a weekend series against the Rangers (also the last home regular season games of the year), and they were big because the Rangers were now leading the division, and we needed to win. Both days, there wasn’t BP, but we snagged 1 at the Saturday game, and 2 at the Sunday game, and the Astros won both those games (hell yeah). I remember after the last regular season game, I asked/told my dad, we’re gonna be back here right? We both agreed, and thankfully were right.

OCTOBER- 6 balls in 2 POSTSEASON games 

  • Sunday, October 11th VS Royals (Game 3 of ALDS)- 4 snagged
  • Monday, October 12th VS Royals (Game 4 of ALDS)- 2 snagged

Even though the Rangers won the West, the Astros claimed the 2nd wild card spot, and beat the Yankees in the Wild Card game in New York, to advance. Postseason baseball was a fun, fun, fun blast. I went to both division series games here in Houston, and I really enjoyed myself. In Game 3, I snagged 4 baseballs, including a postseason ball. I blogged about it, which you can read if you haven’t already, HERE. Now, as for Game 4, it was fun too (for the 1st 7 innings, after that, oh no.) we snagged 2 baseballs, but that was overshadowed, because I will never forget that “inning from hell”. This was the worst game ever. My heart was broken, I hardly ever want to talk about this game. We were oh so close, but those goshdarn Royals came back to win this game, and the series. You gotta give them props, though. This was our last game of the season.

2015 was a very good season, in total, we snagged 146 baseballs in 30 games. Not shabby at all. Our best season yet. What made it the best is that we finished in 2nd place for Junior Ballhawk of the Year on mygameballs.com (congrats, Cole) but I’m coming for 1st place next year. That is a goal I have, and I know I can do it.  I am happy for all the memories that this year has brought, and I’m looking forward to ballhawking in my 9th FULL year of ballhawking (technically this is our 10th, but we only ballhawked in 1 game in 2007), but most importantly, seeing the Astros and maybe a World Series Winner. As always, GO ASTROS!

 

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4/9/15 at The Astrodome

First of, even though this is 8 months late, it’s better than nothing! And just before I officially start this entry, I want to state that this unfortunately, was NOT a game I attended (this post is about an experience) as the Astros played their last game at the Dome on October 9th, 1999, (Game 4 of the NLDS when they lost the game to the Braves, 7-5 and were eliminated from the postseason) and at that time, I wasn’t even born yet! The Astros promptly moved into as then known, Enron Field and played their first game on March 30th, 2000, a mere 8 days after I was born on March 22nd, 2000. Therefore, I never got the chance to go inside and enjoy the Astrodome experience. Although, I do have a pair of authentic seats (pictured below) from the Dome here at my house (when they were sold to the public in 2013), but I still didn’t have the FULL experience. image

The Astrodome officially closed in 2002 after its last tenant (The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo) left, and ever since as rarely been open to the general public. It has been a topic of debate now as whether to re-purpose it or even demolish it here in Houston. While many other old domed stadiums (Kingdome comes to mind) have been demolished, nothing at all has been done with the Astrodome, as it just stays there left to rot and its future fate still remains a mystery. Personally, I thought that I would never get a chance to go inside. Funny how life works, huh? Now, I’m assuming many of you are wondering, what is the significance of the Astrodome? Well, I’ll be happy to tell you!

The Astrodome opened on April 9th, 1965 and was the first multipurpose domed stadium in the WORLD. Many historic events were held here including; A Muhammad Ali fight in 1966, “The Game of The Century” basketball game between Houston & UCLA in 1968, Evel Knievel preforming his famous stunts in 1971, the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in 1973, Elvis Presley concerts in 1974, Selena’s last concert in 1995, and WWE’s (then known as WWF) Wrestlemania 17. The Houston Oilers (NFL) also called this place home, (which led to the 1989 renovation) but left amidst dissatisfaction with the Dome. On a baseball note, it hosted the 1968 and 1986 All Star Games, and two of the best postseason series of all time with the 1980 NLCS (Phillies won series 3-2.) & 1986 NLCS. (Mets won series 4-2.)

In the days leading up to the 50th anniversary (thanks Astros organization, for making commemorative baseballs to celebrate this in 2015, as I snagged 36 of them at games.) of the Astrodome’s first official game (April 9th), the County announced that a free party would be held outside of the Dome from 6-8 PM to celebrate the anniversary, and that the Astrodome was going to BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC TO GO INSIDE. As soon as I heard this on the news, I knew I had to jump on this opportunity. I told my dad, and he agreed to take me. I waited in much anticipation for April 9th to come.

Finally, the day came, and after school around 5:30, we (along with my sister, who decided to tag along) began our 30 minute drive to the Astrodome, hopefully to get there by 6, when I assumed they would start letting people in. Now, me and my dad both thought that maybe a few thousand people would attend and with the line, it would maybe take us 30 minutes to get in and go out. Oh boy, weren’t we wrong. By the time we got there around 6:05, and into the parking lot, we could tell it was going to be packed. We quickly ran to the end of the line, which was growing by the second, and I couldn’t believe how longed it stretched. To try to give you a better picture in your head/visually, I have drawn the line. 21-Jan-08-rCentral-2768_Reliant-ParkWow. The line continued past us (the red dot) and I couldn’t even think of how long it would take us to get inside. I was very worried that we wouldn’t even make it inside before 8 PM or lose our patience, and just go home. But me, I was sure as hell determined to get inside. This opportunity was not going to pass me up. The long journey began to get inside the Astrodome.

6:20 PM- The Astrodome awaits us, this is where we were at the “start” of the line. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 1086:49 PM- Slow progress, can this line move any faster? Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 1067:22 PM- At this time, an announcement was made to everybody still in line, and it was said that the Dome would remain open until EVERYBODY got a chance to go inside. I was relieved that they weren’t going to turn everybody that was left at 8 PM (Imagine the outrage!) so that felt good at the moment, but do I look fed up with the line?Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 1037:23 PM- What a nice day for a celebration. Blue skies, basking with the Dome. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 1048:22 PM- Wow, an hour passed already? Anyways, for some reason I didn’t take any pictures in that 1 hour time period, I believe it was because I wanted to save my battery, but we had progressed in the line very well, and during the wait, we spotted a monster truck that went by the name of “Thunder Chicken“. Supposedly ran in the 80’s, I don’t know much about these types of trucks. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 1098:41 PM- Finally! We were almost nearing the entrance to go inside. The nice blue sky had now turned into a dark one, it looked like it might rain, but it didn’t (thankfully.) Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0958:42 PM- “Elvis” is spotted leaving the building. Not the only one I saw throughout the whole day. (Nolan Ryan 80’s Rainbow Jersey was the most popular thing I saw people wearing. ) Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0978:43 PM- I see the light! We had finally reached the entrance. Lots of people entering, and from the other side you could see all of the people that were leaving. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0878:44 PM- Looking up, very daunting as we’re about to go inside. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0918:45 PM- The upper deck is visible! Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0998:46 PM- Officially inside! I was inside of history! One thing that stood out though, was the smell of mildew, and a reminder of how long this stadium has been defunct, and how it’s not been treated well.Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0988:47 PM- To my right, you could see the area that was behind the Left-Center Field seats. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0948:48 PM- Catching somebody taking a selfie, hah. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0868:48 PM- Looking behind me, I could tell that we had entered and were currently standing on the area that was “Center Field”. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0768:48 PM- A whole bunch/stacks of Astrodome seats that were already taken out from all over (if you haven’t already noticed the bare concrete all over the Dome) and probably going to be sold in the near future. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0778:49 PM- Wait, just a sec! There were still a few sections in the upper deck in which lots of seats were still in tact (notice the old reliant logo too), to still make the wonderful rainbow. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0728:49 PM- Better close up of the stacked seats. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0698:49 PM- The other half of seats still in tact. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0688:50 PM- I finally decided to look up, and oh my, what a beauty. THIS is my favorite picture that I took. What an architectural aesthetic picture.    Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0588:51 PM- Looking towards where home plate was. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0638:52 PM– They had some really cool artifacts there on display such as lockers, a ticket turnstile, pictures of Astros legends that were drawn (and signed by the players) and originally located in the Astros’ clubhouse, and my personal favorites, the last bases used for the final Astros game, including home plate. Also, if you look to the right of all these artifacts, you can slightly see a patch of brown. That was dirt from where 2nd base used to be. Wow, I was very close, and who played 2nd base for the Astros in the 90’s? Craig Biggio. Wow. That’s when I realized that I was inside a pure historic stadium. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0568:53 PM- One thing/artifact that wasn’t shown in the previous picture was this, first installed in the building when it was completed in 1965.  Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0518:53 PM- Panorama time. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0528:55 PM- Astroturf! They still had huge rolls of them stacked away. The story of how the turf was invented was that, when the Dome originally opened, the panels on the roof were clear to let the sun in. Well, players then had a REALLY tough time finding the ball during popups, almost impossible, so the staff decided to paint the panels white, which led to another problem, the grass started dying because of the lack of sun! So in 1966, Astroturf was invented and installed, and was used throughout the entire lifespan of the Dome. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0409:00 PM- Picture with my dad. We can both now say we’ve been inside of 4 MLB facilites (past or present) with the addition of the Astrodome. (Other 3: Minute Maid Park, Globe Life Park in Arlington, and Tropicana Field.) Very satisfying moment, and my Dad sure did have a nice choice of shirt for this occasion. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0279:04 PM- It was finally time to leave, and head towards the exit. Former football play clock visible in middle. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0179:05 PM- Looking back, I had to take one more pic, who knows if I will ever be back? What a marvelous piece of history. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0309:06 PM– Exit, stage left. Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 0079:19 PM- The Houston Astrodome. Still looks brand spankin’ new (from the outside.) Astrodome, April 9th, 2015 004All in all, I was very glad to have this opportunity to go inside and see what the Astrodome was all about, even in 2015. Now, remember at the beginning of this entry how I said that maybe a few thousand would attend? The next morning, they announced that over 25,000 people attended the party, and went inside the Dome. Wow, wow, wow. So many people still have interest in the Astrodome, and the love shown for it on that night was outstanding. To me, this shows that we cannot tear down this historic venue. There are so many things that can be done with it, and all of them WILL be beneficial (hell, why not renovate it to play a few more baseball games?). I support saving the Dome and this experience will carry my Astrodome experience with me forever.

Thanks for reading, please comment what you thought of this post, share it, or do anything to get the word out! Ya’ll are the best, and as always, GO ASTROS! 1070 (1)