Tagged: houston

Commemoratives are Cool- 8/16/16 at Minute Maid Park

St. Louis Cardinals 8Houston Astros 5

I had this game on my schedule for months as the Cardinals, an old NL central rival were making their 1st visit to Houston since 2013, and I heard their BP was pretty solid. Also, coincidentally the Cardinals had just played the Cubs at Wrigley field, and the Cubs were using commemorative baseballs for “100 years at Wrigley Field”. Those who don’t know, home teams provide BP baseballs for the visiting team, and from my “resources”, the Cubs used nothing but the commemoratives during their Home BP’s, so hopefully the Cardinals were given some and still had leftovers for me to snag in Houston. 

I got in at 5, and Astros BP was dead for me. My dad and I both went to left field but he managed a tossup (Ball #1) to at least put us on the board. Can you spot me in the picture below from the Cardinals’ twitter?8-16-cardinals-astros-003

As the Cardinals started BP, their 1st group was mostly lefties and I had a sense they had good power, so I decided to go and play the 2nd deck. Lots of other people had the same idea but I seemed to be the only young, agile kid up there. My move payed off as Matt Carpenter hit a ball right to me, I didn’t even have to move for the easy on-the-fly catch. The few people cheered as if it was a difficult play, but hey, applause is always nice. Our 2nd on the day, I immediately opened my glove after snagging it to see this beauty. binexmhj

Success! After snagging a Blue Jays commemorative just 2 weeks ago, I was happy to have obtained this ball as well. A few minutes later, with Kolten Wong in the cage, he hit me our 3rd ball of the day, as I made a really cool jumping all the up on-the-fly catch. That felt good. Another Cubs commemorative as well! 

I left the 2nd deck as the righties took over, but left field was really crowded so I decided to go to the dugout in search for a tossup when BP ended.  I could really tell that there were more people here than usual (Thanks, Cardinals fans), as you could tell by the sea of red. Two cool things that I did see were: A. that the last group of Cardinals BP were all pitchers! I hadn’t seen that in a while since the Astros moved to the AL (they were raking too!), and B. When the Cardinals jogged off the field, ALL of the Cardinals fans started cheering their team. They were loud too, I had never seen that during BP. I guess they really care about their team. I had no luck  at the dugout, so I caught up after BP with my dad, and photographed our 3 balls that we’d snagged. 8-16-cardinals-astros-005

As for the game, we chilled in the outfield for the mostpart, as the place was crowded, just see this: 8-16-cardinals-astros-002

We watched as the struggling Astros lost the game 8-5. Alex Bregman did hit his 1st major league home run though (in which he went oppo!), which was part of the reason I was in the outfield, and I was bummed he didn’t hit it to me, but the in-game highlight though was that Jose Altuve hit his 1,000th career hit! I periscoped it live, it was a single in the 9th inning, and that was very cool to witness, I love Jose lots (He tossed me a ball in 2015). The Houston crowd went crazy for him. Seeing history being made is so great. He’s our MVP.

Any who, We didn’t snag anything else, no 3rd out balls, no umpire balls, so our total for the day was 3. Solid day, and I had fun catching the commemoratives, even more special that they came from Wrigley Field/The Cubs in the year in which they eventually won the World Series. Cool. 

STATS AFTER THIS GAME: 8-16-cardinals-astros-001

  • 3 balls snagged at this game
  • 125 baseballs in 27 games this season
  • 78 straight games in catching at least one ball
  • Lifetime total: 545
  • Attendance: 30,438

 

 

4/22/16 at Minute Maid Park

Boston Red Sox 6Houston Astros 2

Weekends are tough, as all ballhawks know, but with the Red Sox in town, another dimension of toughness is applied. We made a late minute decision to attend this game, as the weather looked nice, plus why not? 

We got there around 4:45 being the first in line, 15 minutes before the gates opened.  

 Now, for this game, I made the decision to go to right field instead of my normal spot in left, because after several games now, I’ve determined that the power hitters who can hit it to my spot (Correa, White, Altuve*), are already done by the time I get inside. *sigh* 

It ended up paying off as I got a tossup from Tony Sipp, our first of the day but not before some “drama.” Now, I called to Tony for a ball and he tossed in my way, I was about 3 rows back in the section, and out of nowhere while in midair, an old man zoomed by and snatched it from me. I was like, “W. T. F.” It was clearly intended for me and the old man didn’t really give a hoot giving me a shrug. Unbelievable. Thankfully, Tony saw this and hooked me up. I pulled the ball out of my glove and saw this.  

 Holy moly! A Florida ball, I had completed the set! Having snagged an Arizona ball in San Antonio earlier this season, I was extremely happy to snag this. 

Unfortunately, things went DEAD after this snag. The Astros finished around 5:15 & and the whole duration of Red Sox was trash too. I was out of place for home runs, the players wouldn’t toss anything, too many kids, just a bad night. The only action was that my dad got a BP homer out in left, the 2nd of our day.  

 I went to go try for a pregame warm up ball near the 3rd base dugout, and even with the insane amount of people waiting there in the first row (for Ortiz’s autograph, of course), I managed to get a tossup from Travis Shaw, who threw it over everyone’s head. #3 of the day, right before the national anthem.  

   
As for the game, we sat in our “normal” seats in foul territory around 3rd base, but there was no luck on this night. The Astros didn’t fare better either as they were really struggling against knuckleballer, Steven Wright. 

Playing the dugouts in the last 3 innings didn’t help either as there wasn’t luck to be found. I tried going for an umpire ball at the end of the game, but just take a look at this.  

 There was about 10 kids stalking the entrance (WAY more than normal), and my chances were extremely slim.  No way in hell to compete with them. Well, of course, I failed, and the Red Sox bullpen didn’t toss anything on their way back after their 6-2 win against the Astros. Ugh. Tough night, but hey, it is the Red Sox.  

 Stats after this game; 

  • 3 balls at this game. 
  • 15 baseballs in 4 games this season
  • 55 straight games catching at least one ball
  • Lifetime total; 435
  • Attendance; 26,672


4/13/16 at Minute Maid Park

Kansas City Royals 4Houston Astros 2

A rainy day, no after-school baseball practice, and cheap tickets on StubHub equal what? Going to the game of course! With me being free, as compared to other days during my school baseball season, I was able to convince my dad to take me to the Astros game that day. We got there a bit before the gates opened at 5, and there was a pretty good line already. I headed to my usual spot in left-center as the Astros were wrapping up their BP.

 Nothing at all came close, and Ken Giles decided to ignore my request for a ball, pretty much describes how my day was going so far. As for my dad, he ended up getting us on the board first, as he snagged a BP homer, but not before some pain and busting his ass on the way there. (He’s okay. Dad, if you’re reading this, please be careful so I don’t have to laugh at you anymore this season.) Enough said.

For Royals BP, I decided to dress for them, and head out to right field as well. Plenty of balls came close and I ended up snagging our 2nd ball of the day on a Eric Hosmer ball that landed in the seats, and I picked up. The Royals were pretty much dead too, as all their power hitters were in the first round and nothing was coming to right field, so I decided to go to their dugout to maybe get a ball as they were jogging off at the end of BP. Despite me waving my arms like crazy, and standing ten rows back to distinguish myself from the hoard of Royals fans cramming the first row for autographs, nothing was tossed to me. Just like two days earlier, I only had snagged 1 ball during BP.  Here it is, but still, we had 2 combined for the day so far.

 Pre-game didn’t fare any better, as all the balls were tossed to little kids, or attractive women behind the Royals dugout. I decided to sit in one of my favorite spots along 3rd base in hope for some foul balls the whole night. Good view, but those damn new LED lights were lowkey killing me.

 It was a pretty good pitchers duel between Scott Feldman and Yordano Ventura through the first 5 innings before KC scored on an error and sac fly in the 6th, putting them up 2-0. Jose Altuve hit a Home Run in the bottom of the 6th, cutting the lead from 2-1, before Altuve once again got an RBI and tied the game in the 7th. It was getting late, and possibly looked like the game could go into extras. In the 8th, I decided to start playing the dugouts for a 3rd out ball, and I had a really good view when Ken Giles entered the game and gave up a 2-run home run by Salvador Perez to put the Royals up 4-2. Hmm, should’ve tossed me that ball? I had no luck with 3rd out balls despite people filing out after Ken gave up the home run. I decided to just wait at the umpire’s entrance/exit until the game ended, hopefully to get a ball there. My dad ended up joining me their and with their outstanding bullpen, the Royals locked up the win (sad face), 4-2. Surprisingly, compared to the Home Opener two days earlier, there was NO competition at the umpire’s tunnel. It was only me and my dad, which led to our polite request succeeding and both of us getting a ball from Mr. Cederstrom. We doubled our ball total for the day in 10 seconds. Way to turn around a day, and to get our first 2 game balls of the season.  

STATS after this game: 

  • 4 balls at this game
  • 12 balls in 3 games this season (average 3.00)
  • 54 straight games catching at least one ball
  • 2 games balls this season
  • Lifetime Total: 432
  • Attendance: 24,109.

 

4/11/16 at Minute Maid Park (Astros Home Opener)

Kansas City Royals 2Houston Astros 8

After months of anticipation for the baseball season to start on April 4th, I was estatic, but the thing that wasn’t exciting was that I still had to wait another week for the Astros’ home opener, which would be my first regular season game of the season. (Read here for the exhibition I had attended a few weeks earlier.) Baseball was officially back in Houston, and last year’s postseason run really pumped the city up. The Astros have resurrected from the 100 loss seasons. Demand for opening day tickets were through the roof, and I was pretty lucky enough to get some at all, I was just ready to get back to good ol’ Minute Maid Park.

The day of the game, I was a little worried, considering that the Astros hadn’t made an announcement about what time the gates would open, but I heard 4:30 from my friend at school who would be there, so I arranged accordingly for that time. I had baseball practice after-school until about 3:30, when I left early, and my dad picked me up from there, both ready to go. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the ballpark from our house, so if you think about it, I would get there around 30 minutes before the gates open, right? It wasn’t till then when I asked my dad in the car if he knew anything at all about what time they would open, and turns out that the Astros announced (while I was at practice) that the gates were going to open at 4, a whole 3 hours before gametime. Damn, damn, damn. I kinda freaked, considering that I was going to be late to claim my regular spot for BP in left-center, as all the people with “standing room only” tickets would rush to claim them, thus backfiring my whole plan for BP. I decided to shoot the Astros a tweet asking if they knew the BP schedule, and sure enough, they replied with this.

 OK, I had time. we got there around 4:10 and thankfully there was a space in the area I like, and the Astros had not started BP yet. One thing that was VERY noticeable was that the Astros changed all the lights over the offseason to some new LED ones, as they were so gosh darn bright compared to the old ones, like wow.

 Yeah, the filter kinda makes it hard to tell, but trust me. There wasn’t any action, until Colby Rasmus decided to scan the crowd and randomly toss a ball. That ball came right in my direction, as I flashed to Colby and I was literally the ONLY one in the surrounding area that had a glove. It was intended for me, but surely he overthrew it (it was a pretty far throw, I don’t blame him, I still love Colby very much) and it landed in the people behind me. Rough start, oh well at least 5 minutes later, I got Luke Gregerson to throw me the 1st ball snagged in Minute Maid Park this year.

  
Nice scuff there. That was all for Astros BP, as nothing really came close other than that. Now, I did bring my Royals gear with me, and I did plan to go to right field for their BP, but I decided to stay put, and not put it on. Why not? I’m really not sure. I was pretty satisfied with my one ball and not getting shut out, and I felt like I had a good spot right there for some home runs.Our 2nd ball of the day came on a BP home run out in the Crawford Boxes in left that my dad managed to win a scramble to it. Another standard.

  
As for me, BP was pretty much dead, I ended up snagging a ball thrown to me by a Royals coach. Seems pretty average, right? Well, the family standing next to me had a small child, around 1-2 years old, and they were pleading with me to give him the ball. Now, I generally don’t give ball away, but hey it was opening day, along with the face that I may have been intended for the kiddo anyway, so I ended up giving it to them. I can’t remember the amount of times they thanked me, it made me feel great, they even made me take a picture with the kid! Cool stuff, and I didn’t count the ball. Many ballhawks do that, but as of now, it’s not my style, I’m okay with my stats!

Now, I really only got one more chance for a ball during Royals BP, but it was a BP homer that I really botched. I don’t know how I missed it/didn’t catch it, but oh well let’s not talk about it. That was it, 2 balls during BP. I went to go meet up with some friends all over the ballpark, including meeting someone (!!!), and after all this, we decided to head up to our seats then.

 I honestly did not remember the last time I sat up in the upper deck for a game, but hey, last minute tickets does that to you. A pretty cool pre-game ceremony was exciting.

 Also exciting? The first pitches being thrown by Jeff Bagwell & Roger Clemens to Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, respectively, was awesome. I was ready for some Astros baseball.    
 I sat up there until the 8th when some of the seats had cleared out near the dugout in hopes of snagging a opening day commemorative from the umpire. To hell, with third out balls at this game. I ended up running into (again) a die-hard KC fan/ballhawker named, Leiming Tang. I had previously met him back at the postseason game last year (against the Royals) and it was nice to catch up with him and bitter sweetly tell him congrats on his team’s championship season last year.

The Astros ended up winning, 8-2 (yay!), but the home plate umpire, Adrian Johnson, ended up only giving one ball to a small kid who was dressed in Royals gear, while his father had on an Astros jersey with a large backpack containing autograph stuff. Damn. It was commemorative too, I clearly saw it. 😦 Oh well, overall I had a nice night, and it was nice to be back at Minute Maid Park again. 2016 is our year!  img_4580

STATS after this game

  • 2 balls at this game
  • 8 baseballs in 2 games this season (4.00 average)
  • 53 straight games catching at least one ball
  • Lifetime Balls Total: 428
  • Attendance: 43,332.

Throwback Thursday: 9/18/13 at Minute Maid Park

It’s January 28th, 2016 right now as I write this and baseball is slowly creeping more closer and closer! But, in that time, there’s nothing to write about honestly, so I decided to do some research on which past game I could blog about as my first “Throwback Thursday” game blog post! Well, I decided on this one, (since I had a lot of pictures from this game) a Wednesday night game back on September 18th, 2013, an interleague game when the Houston Astros took on their former NL Central rival, the Cincinnati Reds.

The Astros entered the day with a record of 51-100, as they lost their 100th game, just the day before (which I attended, and snagged 6), and the Reds were cruising to the playoffs. So yeah, not too good. As for me and my dad, we entered the day with a lifetime total of 150 baseballs (over two years later now, we’re at 420! Hell yeah.) Unfortunately now, I have little recollection of BP that day. I will though, tell ya’ll about the parts I do remember. We got there around 4:45 before the gates opened at 5, and as soon as we got in, the Reds were already hitting for some strange reason. I went to Left Field, as about 5 minutes in, I snagged my 1st ball of the day, it was a home run hit by Brandon Phillips (DatDudeBP!) that landed in the concourse behind the seats which I was easily picked since no one was around. Other than this, I have no recollection of anything else. Thankfully, I had some notes on my old iPhone (I usually take notes on the balls I snag and how I got them in the notes section of my iPhone), and logging them into mygameballs.com (in which I also put notes too!) helped VERY, very much. Now, I know that they look very screwy, now gives a spoiler alert about my last two snags, and are sadly out of order (what was I doing that day?) But, in boring summary, me and my dad ended up snagging 7 baseballs in BP. Wow. The 2nd ball of the day was a toss-up from Bronson Arroyo, and I remember getting it. It was in center field, and I felt really nice/cool, because me and Bronson have the same last name and that was special for me. #3 was a tossup in right field. #4 was a ball my dad got, a tossup. #5 was a home run that bounced of the wall behind him, and he got. #6 was a tossup behind the Reds dugout as BP was ending by a coach, and the last ball of BP, #7 was another tossup behind the dugout, I remember getting this one as well, because I was around the 20th row seeing/hoping if any player would “go long” and thankfully, somebody did! Really good BP for my 2013 standards now. After BP, I headed to right field to say hello to the bullpen catchers (Javier Bracamonte in particular), but I needed to take a picture of some of my balls. (Hah.) This is one of my favorites pictures that I’ve taken at a game. Just focusing on the baseballs. (Notice the now-old Selig balls. Ew.) As I made my way to right field, I watched the starting pitcher, Brad Peacock (who?), warm up, and took a panorama to show the emptiness of the ballpark. Wow. That’s how bad it got. Thankfully now in 2016, the Astros are looking alright. As Brad went to the bullpen to warm-up, I noticed one of the Astros’ coaches signing in the bullpen. Now, you might be thinking, a coach? Why is that important? Well, that coach was the pitching coach of the time, Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez. For those of you who don’t know, Dennis played in the bigs from 1976-1998, and was the first Nicaraguan baseball player to play in the MLB. Not to mention also that he pitched the 13th PERFECT GAME in MLB history in 1991, while playing for the Montreal Expos. Personally, I didn’t think that he would return for the 2014 season to coach, so I made my move. I got him to sign my 7th ball of the day on the sweet spot! (hence, in my notes earlier I wrote, “Signed by Dennis Martinez”.) One of the best autographs I have gotten ever.

As the game was about to start in 15 minutes, I headed down to the dugout, and said hello to a very friendly usher who let me chill in the FIRST ROW behind the dugout the last few innings of the game before. I told him that I would be sitting around the 1st base field box (as that’s were our tickets were), and he invited me to come back to the dugout later in the game if no one was sitting there. Wow. For the meantime, I lingered a little longer to see (to my surprise) that Craig Biggio was going to catch the ceremonial first pitch. He was there! He’s my favorite Astro of all-time, period.  After this, Chris Carter (the Astros first baseman) came and warmed-up with somebody, and afterwards with no competition around me, I asked for the ball, and Chris tossed it to me for our 8th ball of the day. It was an old, extremely worn out, left over 2012 Astros commemorative. I thought it was cool, another commemorative to add to the collection. I headed to my seat now. We honestly had really good seats, with a great view. I have no recollection of the first 5 innings of the game, but after the 5th, I decided to go check if my dugout offer was still on the table. I snuck in (even back then when they sucked, they checked tickets) and to my glad surprise, I headed to the first row, where the friendly guard was, and he said, “Hey! They’re right here for you.” Wow, wow, wow. NOW, I had quite the view. 
Notice Bo Porter’s head in the first pic on the bottom left corner (he was the manager at that time, and led the Astros to their worst finish ever that year, as they ended the year with a 14-game losing streak (sigh), and a record of 51-111. Thank god those days are over.) Despite sitting there since the 5th, I hadn’t gotten a ball yet! I was eager to snag at least one there. In the 9th, the score was tied at 4 when the Reds came to bat. They ended up loading the bases with two outs, and Ryan Ludwick was at the plate. The count went to 3-2, and the pressure was definitely on the pitcher, Josh Fields. Thankfully, Josh ended up striking out, and on the way in, the catcher, Carlos Corporan, tossed me the ball. That was #9 on the day, commemorative too. (This ball is listed in my blog post as #4 of my top 5 favorite catches ever.)

After this snag, I was pumped. I was only one ball away from my first double digit game, and with extra innings seeming near, I had a good chance! Sadly, it was getting late, and it was a school night. Nowadays, I would have most likely convinced my dad to stay, but we ended up leaving the park, one of the rare few occasions that I have ever done that. The game ended up going 13 innings (DAMN), and the Reds won 6-5 (DOUBLE DAMN.) I’m surely convinced I would have snagged one more, but it’s all okay now, as we’ve had 7 double digit games now.

Well, I hope ya’ll really liked this “Throwback Thursday” post, as I love to write, and felt a need to write, and this really helped. Make sure to like, and leave your thoughts, and as always, go Astros! img_7682

Stats (at that time) after this game

  • 9 balls at this game
  • 58 balls that season in 16 games (3.62 average)
  • 10 straight games with at least snagging one ball
  • 159 lifetime balls
  • Attendance: 29,701 (Hah! What a joke.)

 

 

2016 Astros Fanfest

Baseball withdrawal is serious for me and lots of other fans right now, and to have something baseball-related to attend and marked on my calendar felt NICE. That day was fanfest. Astros Fanfest. Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. Minute Maid Park. It had been 3 months since I’d been inside the ballpark for ALDS Game 4 back in October (which I will blog about eventually, but the pain is still strong from that game), and I was just simply itching to get back in to #smellbaseball once again.

Now, I attended Fanfest for the first time in 2015, and attendance wasn’t all too great, and I understood that, as they just finished 2014 with a 72-90 record. But now, after the amazing playoff 2015 season, I definitely expected a whole lot more people. I knew that success would bring people back just like in the last month of the season last year, attendance at Astros games were definitely up. I had read in the newspaper that morning that season ticket sales were up by 2,000 “units.” Wow. We were in for a big day.

We left the house around 10:25 am, and with the 20-25 minute drive, we arrived just before the gates were to open for the event at 11. There were so many cars in the parking lots all around (parking was free, hah) and by the time we got to the gate, holy moly. I was right. The lines all over the stadium stretched at least 200 people each line. I was pretty happy to be there though. We got in line towards the home plate gate. I was very anxious to get in. Thankfully, the lines went by smoothly and we got in quick. Our first stop was to the team store behind home plate in the concourse. Last year, they had so many stuff on sale like jerseys, hats, and great goodies. (I bought a brick red batboy jersey for $15 last year!) I was seriously hoping they would do it again.  We started walking there and it was like heaven. Programs for sale, hats, shirts, game used bases, gigantic posters, old stuff, a HUGE HELMET BAG. Wow. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea as us to look for nice stuff as soon as we entered the stadium and the store was CRAMMED. Claustrophobic much? Hell yeah.

It probably took 30-40 minutes to look through the store, and go through the massive line but I walked away with lots amazing things such as: a BADASS batting practice sign ($3), a name sign (probably in their locker) from former Astro (I didn’t even know he was on the team at one point) Armando Galaragga ($3, and yes, the one who infamously almost threw a perfect game), a 2015 orange brim postseason hat for $10 (regular price: $37.99. What a steal.), a Mike Fiers No-Hitter poster (for $1, and hopefully to be signed some day), a Keuchel’s Korner shirt for $5, and the cream of the crop, a brick red Javier Bracamonte jersey for $20! (regular price according to oldest tag: $125. Wow.) I love Javier so much, he’s been the bullpen catcher for the Astros for a while now and he’s always been so nice to me. (by tossing me plenty of balls over the years and interacting with me) He’s just a really good guy to everyone in general. He’s the best. Best bullpen catcher in the MLB.

Now, about the jersey, it was a REAL eye-catcher because of something on it, and this really convinced me to get it…

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, this was a jersey from 2004, the year that the Astros hosted the All-Star game (AL won that year, 9-4). It had survived 11-12 years!!! Wow. I couldn’t believe it. What a pickup. BEAUTIFUL. Even though it fits me quite big, I’ll see what I’ll do with it.

Anywho, after the store, there wasn’t much to do (I sadly didn’t get any autograph passes since they sold out quick) until I saw a photo booth in the right field concourse! There were players (rotating every 20 minutes) taking pictures with fans! I quickly got in line. When I initally got in line, it was infielder Marwin Gonzales who was taking pictures but by the time it got to us, Marwin had left and someone new had taken his spot. Who was it?

That would be the hard-throwing reliever, Josh Fields. Really cool guy. After the picture, before leaving, I told him that he had tossed me a ball last season (true story), and thanked him for it. He said no problem, with a nice smile on his face. Totally awesome. Hopefully he tosses me another ball in 2016.

After that, the field was open to run the bases, and take pictures in the Astros dugout (does any other team do that?) and of course, I took advantage of it. I hadn’t ran the bases since I was little, so I did that first, and I’ll admit I walked the bases, but that was because I wanted to enjoy the view and you’re damn right I enjoyed it.

 
 Notice Tal’s Hill right behind me in my awkward selfie, as it’ll live another year! What a cool hill. After finishing my “home run trot” across the bases, we headed to take a picture in the Astros dugout, which resulted in me using the telephone to challenge a call. Really cool.

Making our way through the dugout, we noticed somebody in a uniform was there also. It was Astros infielder Luis Valbuena! There was a short line of people wanting to take a picture him and we managed to get a selfie with him!

Cool guy. After this, we went down to a fan forum in the luxurious diamond club behind home plate. I’d only been there once before, and that was for last year’s fanfest as well when newly-voted Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio was set to answer questions at a forum, and I’m happy to say I asked him something. Really, really cool. Anyways, why was I here again? Oh yeah, the Astros were set to reveal a new alternative jersey for 2016, and I wanted to see first-hand the reveal, and what it would look like. I think it looks pretty solid, a nice tribute to the past, and I’m looking forward to see the club wear it on Sunday afternoons. (Picture from @alysonfooter’s twitter.)

Now, even though I was in the diamond club, I’d never been in the seats outside of the club directly behind home plate. Throughout 100+ games that I’ve attended here at Minute Maid Park, this was the only place that I’d never been/sat in. Well after Saturday, I’m glad to say that it’s a false statement now. The seats were open, and I took advantage of it. I was truly sitting like a boss. Despite the people (kidding), the view was amazing in front of me. I never know when/if I’ll ever be back here in the Diamond Club, so I took full advantage of it. I’ll admit the seats were comfy, but I wouldn’t wanna sit here for a game. (Crazy, right? But ok, maybe a few innings.) I’d feel like a trapped animal. Before leaving the club, my dad got a pic that TRULY made me feel like a boss.

Oh yeah, living the good life. It was time to go after this as the event was nearing the end, and honestly I had a great day. To see the city of Houston and Astros fans rejuvenated again for baseball once again, is really really exciting. I can’t wait until opening day. Can April come any sooner? Before we official left though, my dad took an amazing pic which pretty much describes Houston & Minute Maid Park, and the word is beautiful.

Well, thanks guys for reading, make sure to follow my blog for WAY  more excellent blog posts to come this season, like this post, comment what you thought, if you’re ready for baseball season, any purchases made at FanFests around the country, and what do you enjoy about your team’s FanFest? Baseball is nearing quickly, and who’s ready? EVERYONE. Tweet me @Angel__Arroyo, and as always, Go Astros!

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)

 

 

ALDS Game 3 at Minute Maid Park

Playoff baseball in Houston, Texas in 2015? At the beginning of the season, I (and the whole city too) would have NEVER EVER imagined it happening. I was thinking, let’s get back to .500 baseball, and I’ll be really happy. Oh, I love how baseball works. In April, the Astros started off FANTASTIC with an 18-9 start, leaving us in 1st place in the AL West. How’d they start off so good? A major factor was a TEN GAME WINNING STREAK which left me thinking, “oh, thank god, they’re finally going to have a good year.” What an understatement. The Astros ended up most of the season cruising in 1st place (wow!) until the end of the season when the Astros ALMOST collapsed. The Rangers ended up sweeping a 4-game series to take 1st place in the middle of September, but we battled until the last day, and were rewarded with the 2nd AL Wild Card spot.

I couldn’t believe it that they were going to be in the playoffs, even if at the moment it was only for one game. Watching the Wild Card game was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life, because I wanted them to win SO bad. Well, they pulled it off, with a 3-0 victory against the Yankees, and better yet, breaking their hearts in the process. They were now moving on to play in the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals. How confident were we? Well based on this picture taken right after we won the Wild Card Game, I guess you could say, VERY.  ALDS Game 3 023

Now, in advance before the Wild Card game, we bought tickets to Game 4, so when they split the first two games in Kansas City, I knew I would be going, but I never thought that I would have gone to Game 3. We didn’t have tickets, and of course, the games would be sold out, but somehow, my dad got tickets from where he works, and we were set. I was stoked, and couldn’t wait. I was going to be at the first Astros playoff game in TEN LONG YEARS. I went to ALCS Game 2 in Arlington in 2010, and after that experience, even at ten years old, I couldn’t wait until the Astros could bring playoff baseball back to Houston. After the disastrous seasons of 2011-2014, and sticking through it all as a LOYAL Astros fan, this made it well worth the wait.

Finally, the day came of Game 3, we left the house around 9:30 in the morning for the 3:00 game time start. The gates were scheduled to open at 11:30, a full 3 1/2 hours before the game, which for me, was astonishing because that would be the earliest I would ever be getting in. The reason for that time? To accommodate the sell-out crowd, of course. There was going to be a street fest opening at 11, but I wanted NO part in it. The street included the left field gates, which during the regular season for some reason was HARDLY open. With that in mind, I decided to enter at the 3rd base/left field corner gate around 10 AM. I was there. First in line of course. (Thanks Snapchat, for the cool “filter” for this special game.)ALDS Game 3 002

ALDS Game 3 024ALDS Game 3 017Thanks Dad, for the awkward picture but I waited for 1 1/2 hours patiently and started figuring out my “game plan” in that time. One major problem with the gates opening so early, was that by the time I got inside, BP wouldn’t have even started already! The Astros tweeted out that day, that the Astros would begin BP at 12:15, a whole 45 minutes after the gates opened. I knew I was going to have to pick one spot and stay there with the massive crowd. I decided on my normal Astros BP spot in left-center, the only question was if I was to get there quick enough to claim it. As for my dad, I told him, that he NEEDED to claim the corner spot in Left Field. Finally, at 11:30 I got my absolutely BEAUTIFUL ticket scanned, like honestly, take a look at it. ALDS Game 3 016

*heart eyes* Thankfully I was the first one to my spot, and I was excited to be inside, and was very satisfying to see the scoreboard flashing all around the ballpark saying, “Welcome to the American League Division Series.” I was at a playoff game. Now, the hardest part was just waiting for BP to start. ALDS Game 3 012The Astros came on the field around noon to a big roar of cheers from the crowd, especially Colby Rasmus who had just been on FIRE during the first 3 playoff games. Right on time at 12:15, BP started. The small standing room area around me filled in pretty quick and I basically had no place to go. The ball basically had to come directly to ME, but I happened to be one of the only few with a glove, so I had a bit of an advantage. During the whole 45 minute BP, 3 balls came so close to me, and if they landed about 1-2 feet lower, I probably would have had 2 of them if they had not hit the sign above me. You can see the one I’m talking about after my dad just happened to catch a picture of me in my spot from the corner spot that he successfully got. He also got a REALLY nice panorama of the ballpark at the very beginning. ALDS Game 3 026

ALDS Game 3 027Very nice. Anyways, after the Astros were done, I headed out tor right field for Royals BP. It pained me to be stand out there in Royals gear (yes, I brought it, even at a playoff game), but it backfired on me tremendously, as players were barely tossing into the crowd. I thought for sure it would help me stand out wearing blue in a sea of orange, but to avail. Only one hit ball came my way, and I will admit, I totally messed up. The ball came to my left, and I had space maneuvering to it, but at the very last second, I guess I did something with my glove, and instead of an easy catch, the ball tipped of the top of my glove and into a kid’s glove right beside me. If I had a reason to blame, it had been about 3 weeks since my last game with BP (which was my 1st game back after having appendicitis surgery), so I was judging fly balls pretty terribly, I’m assuming. I felt like shit (emotionally) after botching that ball as BP was winding, and I started getting worried that my streak was going to be broken. Before that day, the streak for consecutive games attending with at least snagging one ball was at 49 games. I was really, really confident at the beginning of the day, that I could easily snag one, and finally extend it to 50 games (which to me, is a big accomplishment, as I keep progressing in my career) but I was panicking. I wasn’t watching my dad for the entire BP, and I didn’t know if he snagged anything so I was worried/anxious to catch one.

About 5 minutes before BP ended, a ball rolled to the wall in which a coach (who I couldn’t identify) who had a fungo came walking towards it. I believed my odds of getting the ball was slim since I saw that he didn’t toss anything up throughout BP, but it was worth giving it a shot. I waved my hands like crazy, and thank god that he saw my bright blue shirt. He picked it up, flicked it over the hands of people in the rows in front of me, and right into my glove. WHAT A RELIEF. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a playoff baseball, but I was on the board finally (in a way.) Thank you, unknown Royals Coach with a fungo!!!

BP ended, and I caught up with my dad. Turned out that he managed to catch TWO baseballs in his corner spot. A toss-up from Alex Gordon, and a home run too, so my ball from the Royals coach was actually the 3rd ball of the day. Thanks for the 2 baseballs, Royals! Of course, at a playoff game, he would out-snag ME. I needed some time to relax (and change back into my Astros jersey for the game) so I headed to my ticketed seat in section 108. What a view it was. ALDS Game 3 028

The matchup was going to be good with Edison Volquez starting for the Royals, against Dallas Keuchel who had been unstoppable at home all year, with a 15-0 and an ERA below 1.50 at Minute Maid Park. With those stats, I was very confident that we could get the win today, and go up 2-1 in the series.

On a sidenote, in the days leading up to the game, the Astros kept advertising/tweeting for everyone who was attending to wear orange, and keeping that in mind, as I was looking from my seat at all of the fans, I was amazed to see nothing but orange. It was an amazing sight to see that everyone was ready for this. Ten long years, in the making. ALDS Game 3 003

As the ceremonies came to a wind-down, and George H.W Bush throwing out the first pitch, it was time for the actual game. The Astros came out onto the field with a thundering roar from the crowd, and nobody was sitting down. The “giveaway” if you want to say, was that every single fan received a pair of ThunderStixx (popularized by the Angels during their 2002 championship season) and they were LOUD. Immediately, I loved them, especially in unison. It made the crowd even louder. ALDS Game 3 had officially started. ALDS Game 3 004

The game began with a mini-pitching duel as the game remained scoreless for the first 3 innings. In the 4th, Lorenzo Cain of the Royals hit a MOONSHOT to left field on the 11th pitch of the at-bat, to give them a 1-0 lead. The crowd kept getting more, and more anxious waiting for something to happen, as Volquez was dealing and looked like he was going to have a really good start, until the 5th inning. The Astros managed to get runners on 2nd & 3rd, with one out and Jason Castro at the plate. During the season, he batted in the low .200’s, striking out A LOT. There was two strikes on the count, I thought to myself, “Here comes another strikeout.” He proved me wrong. After going 0-9 in the postseason, he shot one up the middle to drive in both runs to give the Astros a 2-1 lead. The crowd went crazy, it was the first big thing to cheer about finally! I remember jumping up and down ,and everybody was giving anybody high-fives. There was so much love in the building, and I was totally pumped. They added another run in the 6th from a Carlos Gomez RBI single, giving them a 3-1. Finally, the crowd was buzzing going into the late innings, sensing a victory. C(HR)is Carter added another run with an absolute BOMB to left field, extending the lead to 4-1 headed into the 7th inning stretch. In the meantime, I was lucky enough to snag a t-shirt during the t-shirt toss, which was a very bright orange with the words, “Hustle Town” on them, which had become the Astros’ slogan for the postseason. Very, very cool. I put it on for the rest of the game.

As the game started to wrap up, I knew my only chance for a postseason ball was at the Umpire tunnel, it was either a make or break chance. Sure, I was going to be back the next day, but I REALLY felt the need to get it out-of-the-way. Luke Gregerson came on in the 8th, for a 4 out save, and managed to work out of a jam in the 8th. In the 9th, he surrendered an Alex Gordon home run, making the score, 4-2. A base runner was able to get on, to put the tying run at the plate with 2 outs, creating some drama.  At this time, I headed towards the umpire exit in hope of finding an empty edge seat, and thank god I did. I had a great view. I was cheering like mad, I wanted this victory badly (along with the sell-out crowd too), and I just wanted Gregerson to finish him! That’s exactly what he did, striking out Lorenzo Cain swinging to give the Astros a victory, a 2-1 series lead, and ONE win away from the ALCS!

As soon as the game ended on that pitch, I bolted myself as fast as I could, to the front of the umpire tunnel. I was conflicted in those few seconds to maybe go more towards the side of the exit, and not at the top of it, but I decided to stay put. Holy moly, I’m lucky I did. Home plate umpire, Mike Everitt approached, and I spoke as loud (because the crowd was still yelling in joy) as I could and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Everitt! Can I please have a ball!!!” He was almost gone, when he stuck the last ball he had into my awaiting glove. Thank you so much, Mr. Everitt!!! That was our 4th, and final ball of the day. I was so happy as I took it out of my glove, and saw the Postseason logo/stamping on it. I HAD SNAGGED A POSTSEASON BALL. What a way to end an amazing day, for my 2nd playoff game ever, but of course, I enjoyed this one way more better. I couldn’t believe it, and of course, the Astros were in perfect shape to win the series, and to possibly see a clincher the next day, and I would be there to see it, if it did happen? I was pumped for Game 4, and the city of Houston was too. ALDS Game 3 008

On a sidenote, I would really like to thank my dad’s boss, for hooking us up with the tickets for this game (and lots of more games throughout the past few years), and it was really a pleasure to be his guest, to have been able to enjoy this special game. It means quite a lot, as this game provided me memories, in which I will never forget. Sunday, October 11th, 2015. Oh boy, what a fantastic day. ALDS Game 3 001

STATS (after this game)ALDS Game 3 005

  • 4 balls at this game
  • 144 balls this season in 29 games (4.97 average)
  • 50 (!!!) consecutive games with at least one ball
  • 418 lifetime balls
  • 2nd Playoff Game Ever Attended (ALCS Game 2 in Arlington)
  • # of high fives given that day: too many to remember.
  • Attendance: 42,674

7/10/15 at Tropicana Field

A vacation trip to Florida led me to a trip to the Trop. It had just worked out that the Astros were in Tampa so I HAD to go. I picked the Friday night game as I was leaving Florida the next day, so to me this was a perfect way to close out the trip. I went with the whole family and we left around 11 that morning as the Trop was about 2 hours away from where we were staying, but I wanted to look around to the city too.  Finally, around 3 o’clock we arrived and decided to keep driving around as the gates weren’t going to open for another two hours. We parked at 4:10 (for free!), and honestly, the Trop at first sight looked ugly. But I was really happy to be there. (: Tropicana Field 054

Thanks to my mom for taking that pic but oh yeah, baby. Astros fans in the house. I had picked this jersey to take with me because I knew that I was going to stand out, and hopefully it would help me snag many baseballs. We tried to walk around the stadium but there were many barriers, so we couldn’t. I had a good aisle seat ticket for the game out in left field which cost me $12, and I had visions of catching a game home run here, how cool would have that been? Tropicana Field 014

Meanwhile, I kept seeing lots of Astros fans, and mostly all of them were Puerto Ricans in Carlos Correa shirts. It then occurred to me that Puerto Rico wasn’t very far from Tampa, and I guess he has a good fanbase here. It actually scared me a bit because I thought I would be one of the ONLY Astros fans here, and that tossups would easily come my way. Now, maybe it would be a challenge, but I didn’t think about it much. Tropicana Field 009

But I gotta admit, I love the kid, and I’m excited for him to lead us to the World Series soon. Meanwhile, I waited for the gates to open at 5. Back at Minute Maid, they open two hours early and they let us in at 5, but here in Tampa when 5 o’clock rolled around I was anxious to get inside. Slowly minutes passed, and I was thinking, “What the hell are they waiting for? What’s happening? Well, they do open two hours early, game time was at 7:10 and they opened at 5:10. Wow, imagine what I could have done in those 10 minutes. Anyways, I had just shook it off, scanned my ticket, and ran to left field. The seats are configured weird as hell, as the concourse is “underground the seats”, you have to walk up a lot of stairs in order to get to see the ballpark. I walked up and saw my first glimpse of the field. Tropicana Field 015

This was my 3rd MLB park visited, and this one was just a big “eh.” After seeing the stadium on TV many times, to see it in person, makes it look uglier. Don’t even get me started on the turf, oh god. The whole thing reminded me of a bad replica of the Astrodome. Anyways, Rays BP had already ended (ugh), and the Astros were barely stretching. It gave my dad some time to catch up and I managed to take a (blurry) pic of when he first entered the seats. Tropicana Field 017

I noticed immediately the ushers scolding people who were going into the front row if they didn’t have a ticket and I thought to myself, “damn.” They would let you into any other row, just not the first. Fellow ballhawk, Erik Jabs, had tweeted me a week before the game and warned me about the front row policy, and to buy a front row ticket. I decided not to, I would just play home runs. That’s when I stumbled onto another problem. The Astros started hitting around 5:20 and I couldn’t see the ball when they were hit in the air. Why? White ball, and white roof don’t work together. Tropicana Field 031

The roof though actually fascinated me, and it was tilted sideways. That was odd, the whole building looks out of level, but yet it was in a way. Huh, but since I couldn’t see the baseballs, I thought I was screwed for BP. Regulars would see the ball, and I would have a major disadvantage. Another reason why this stadium sucks for ballhawking. Now, back to the ushers, they had whistles on them too and whenever a ball was hit to the outfield seats around me, they would blow them non-stop and this would happen FOR EVERY SINGLE BALL that landed in the seats. That annoyed the crap out of me. Tropicana Field 016

Now, I thought I was going to get shutout, but I think I had a good advantage. Attending many Astros games, and being a diehard fan, helped because I recognized EVERYBODY on the Astros. Toss-up’s were going to be possible now. Soon, a ball rolled up to the track and I saw that it was newly called up pitcher, Dan Straily. I called to him (from the 2nd row) and saying “Any chance a ball for an Astros fan?”. He looked up, and tossed it up saying, “here ya go, bud.” My first ball of the day, and ever at Tropicana Field. Thanks, Dan!”

I positioned myself for every batter, and it payed off when my second ball of the day was a scramble that I won when Evan Gattis hit one about a row in front of me which was bobbled and I swooped down and snagged it. Thanks, Evan! Correa stepped into the cage, and even though I positioned myself deep, I didn’t snag anything of his bat, but I saw the most impressive thing of all of BP. He hit one into the second deck in left. To reach it up there, and for it not to strike a catwalk. Wow. After Correa, Jake Marisnick stepped into the cage (I also knew every batter in the cage, even 370 feet away from home plate because of their batting stances.). He likes hitting to left-center, and I moved into an empty row in which I think he could reach me. The first ball pitched to him, he hits it high and right in my direction. It starts slicing to the left, and even though I can barely see it, I reached out and caught it on the fly. That felt great. Take that, ugly roof. Thanks, Jake! That was my 3rd ball of the day. After that, some weak lefties stepped into the cage and I decided to play the dugout when the Astros walked off, and maybe I could get something. This was my view.

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Tropicana Field 019Now do you see the second deck where it is? Just wow to see that power out of Correa. Astros BP ended around 6:20 and even though I didn’t get anything out of the players, the Bullpen Coach (who tosses BP also), Javier Bracamonte actually recognized me as he was loading all the balls into the bag! I always tell him hi at Minute Maid when he walks into the bullpen and here in the Trop when he pointed me out, that felt good. He gave me a signal as he was going to hook me up, and a few seconds later, he tossed me a really dirty ball in the third row over everyone else. Javi’s the absolute best bullpen catcher in MLB, he tossed me many balls over the years and major thank you to Javier! That was my 4th of the day. Unfortunately, my dad didn’t catch anything out in Left, so we were stuck at 4 at the end of BP. (FYI, we’re a team and all the balls we catch count in our collection.) I hung out by 3rd base in hopes of a pregame tossup, which wasn’t meant to be. I just watched the starting pitcher, Collin McHugh warm up.  Tropicana Field 022

I then went back to my seat out in left field. I thought about playing the Astros dugout when I was planning my day out in my head, but I decided not to because a) ushers were everywhere, and b) I had a ticket in the outfield! I rarely sit out in home run territory, and if there was ever a time to snag my first game home run, I was ready to pounce TODAY. I liked my chances, thanks to my seat view. Tropicana Field 023

The game went by pretty quick, as it was a pitcher’s duel. (It took 2 hours, and 19 minutes to finish. Quickest. Game. Ever.) The Astros took the lead in the 2nd, 1-0 on a Colby Rasmus home run to right. Each team kept making 3 outs quick and there was little action so I decided to look around and mess around with my camera by taking a panoramic of the Trop.

Tropicana Field 025The atmosphere in the ballpark was dead, the speakers (which hanged of the catwalk sucked), and it didn’t feel like I was at a baseball game. No wonder everyone calls this the worst park in the Majors. The Rays need a new ballpark BADLY. The Rays came back in the 6th with 2 runs, and tacked on another run in the 7th on a Brandon Guyer solo home run to left. The ball landed a section to my left, and I looked at the video of it after the game, and I barely saw myself, at the far left, above where it says “McHugh: 90 Pitches” in the rainbow jersey.

Tropicana Field 056I headed to the Astros dugout in the 8th in hopes of a gamer, but to no avail. In the 9th, I went (or at least tried) to get down to the umpire exit with my dad before I was stopped by an usher around 3rd base who asked if I had a ticket, and I confessed I didn’t. Ugh, why would an usher ask for tickets in the 9th inning??? I went back into the concourse and found the section right behind home plate (which is where the umpire exit is, and where I wanted to be) and it wasn’t being guarded. Hah. The Astros went down on strikeouts and lost 3-1 (sad face) and I quickly got to a great spot. Nobody was really asking, and before I could finish my request to Home Plate Umpire, Sam Holbrook, he tossed me one, and tossed the last ball he had to my dad. Double thanks, Sam! & Good Job, Dad! We had now ended the day with 6 baseballs, and maintained our average of 6 balls per game. We were very happy with our umpire balls. Tropicana Field 040

We met back with our family back in left field, and it was time to leave. Overall, it was a great day, even though the Astros lost and my assessment of Tropicana Field is that it sucks, it’s ugly, the outfield seats are little and people fill in quick so it can get tough quickly. It’s just a bad ballpark, and I feel bad if anyone had to be a regular here. It’s tough. Before leaving though, I took my favorite picture of the day of the roof from the concourse. Tropicana Field 042

So long Tropicana Field, thanks for hosting me for a day. You weren’t a spectacular catch, you’ve still got your ways to go. Go Astros! Tropicana Field 045

Tropicana Field 048Tropicana field, my 3rd MLB Park visited. Tropicana Field 052

STATS (after the July 10th Game)

  • 6 balls at this game Tropicana Field 055
  • 90 balls this season in 15 games (6.00 average.)
  • 36 consecutive games with at least one ball
  • 6 consecutive games outside of Houston with at least one ball
  • 28 lifetime balls outside of Houston
  • 364 lifetime balls in total
  • Attendance: 17,129