The final 2016 World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifier was held at MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, in Brooklyn, NY. This was another event I had put on my calendar months ago knowing they would be using a WBC qualifier baseball.
I decided to take to take Thursday, September 22nd off from work and attend the 12 noon Pakistan-Brazil game figuring that it would be the least crowded of any of the games, and I was right. The box score after the game said 1,210 people were there, but I doubt there were more than 300, if that.
I got to the stadium early for batting practice/warm-ups, hoping one of the teams would bring some of their own baseballs. Instead, they all used ROMLBs, most of which were fairly beat up and all of which had the word “copy” on the sweet spot.
Few people were in line when the stadium opened around 10:40. Those that were mostly autograph collectors trying to get Brazil manager Barry Larkin to sign for them.
You can see how empty the stadium was, particularly behind the Pakistan dugout on the third base line, when the Pakistani team posed for a picture about an hour before game time.
I ended up getting four WBC balls over the course of the day. The most interesting was a foul ball that ended up in the outside portion of a restaurant down the third base line.
I knew a ball had been hit out of the stadium down the third base line, but it is such a busy area, I assumed someone would have gotten it right away. But after the inning was over, I took a look from inside the stadium just for fun.
Sure enough, I could see the ball sitting in plain sight in the area with the picnic tables without umbrellas, beyond the tables with umbrellas.
I took the picture above AFTER I got the ball. I didn’t want to waste time once I saw it knowing that it couldn’t be long before someone found it.
I don’t think I was supposed to be able to go out and come back in — there was tons of security at the game, and fans had to walk through metal detectors and have bags thoroughly searched — but the security guard let me do just that. Fortunately, the ball was still there when I got out there. It made up for a few toss-ups I narrowly missed.
My other hope was to get a lineup card from the game. Pakistan posted its lineup card on the wall well before the game (it is the on the right wall below). It was a nice full-color WBC lineup card.
With Pakistan coaches milling around before the game, I decided to ask then if I could get it after the game.
I was told to ask assistant coach John Goulding, an American. Goulding said he would be happy to give it away, but was told by WBC officials he could not. A nearby WBC official (there were WBC people all over the place) stepped in and said the same thing, that I would need to talk to MLB PR if I wanted the lineup card. I asked him if there was anyone from MLB PR I could talk to at the stadium, and he said he didn’t know, so that was pretty much a dead end.
But I was not about to give up on my effort to try and get a lineup card. The question was just what the game plan should be. There didn’t seem to be as many WBC officials hovering around the Brazil dugout, so I could try there, but Brazil had more fans who would likely surround the dugout after the game AND I knew there were several autograph seekers trying to get Brazil manager Barry Larkin to sign after the game.
Another route would be to try and get the “official batting order” cards from the umpire or either manager. I figured it was less likely WBC officials would care about those.
The umpires would come off the field near the Pakistan dugout, so that’s where I stood as the game ended in the 7th inning with Brazil leading 10-0 per the WBC’s “mercy rule”. But home plate umpire Alberto Ruiz ignored me.
I then hung out by the Pakistan dugout for quite a while while the team and coaches talked in the outfield. The WBC official who had said “no dice” before the game was still lurking but not near where the lineup card was. When Goulding finally came over to that part of the dugout, I asked him for the dugout lineup card. Another guy standing near me asked him as well. Goulding handed him the lineup card.
Goulding was already passed me but stopped when I asked him for the official batting order cards, pulled the Pakistani card out of his pocket and turned around and handed it to me.
Seconds later, there was a flurry as the actual Pakistan manager and a couple WBC officials rushed up into the stands. They chased down the guy who Goulding had given the dugout lineup card to and took it from him. Suffice it to say, I was lucky to NOT get the dugout lineup card from him because if I had, I would have ended up with nothing. I was at least able to walk away with this:
It’s not the really nice looking dugout lineup card I was hoping to get, but I was fortunate to get anything the way it all played out. And the card has the WBC logo watermark, which is cool.
None of the Pakistani players play professional baseball in America, but there is one interesting name: “#8 Saddam Hussain.” It is the same spelling as the former Iraqi dictator who was executed in 2006 for “crimes against humanity.”
A few more random pictures:
You can see a couple of the rides at Coney Island amusement park beyond the LF wall.
I had hoped to be able to grab lunch at the White Castle down the street from the ballpark, but it was closed.
Nathan’s, however, was open.
If the WBC qualifier was my last baseball game of the 2016 season, and there’s a good chance it was, it was a good way to end it.
2016: 58 lineup cards (40 dugout/bullpen; 18 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 121 lineup cards (87 dugout/bullpen; 32 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)