4/12 – Nats Park (Part 2)

For the final full day of our trip, Plan A was to go to the Blue Jackets @ Capitals NHL playoff game if my brother who lives in the area could get tickets.  As it worked out, he was unable to get tickets.

Plan B was to catch another Nationals’ game, this time against the Rockies who had just come to town for a four-game series.

Plan B wasn’t a bad alternative as we would go with my brother and nephew, which would be fun.

To start the day, Sean and I headed into Washington DC to visit the Smithsonian Air & Space and American History museums.  We’ve been to both museums in the past, but had missed sections so this allowed us to see what we had missed in the past.

Sean was very excited to see the Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie, on loan from Warner Brothers.

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As for the game, as we were going with family, ballhawking was not a priority.

For starters, not only did we not go for BP, we ended up not getting to the game until the second inning due to traffic.

It is too bad in one sense because there was a chance to possibly get either the 25th anniversary commemorative the Rockies are using this season, or an Arizona Spring Training ball.

We still had a chance given that we sat right behind the Rockies’ bullpen.  Sean and my nephew were trying for toss-ups.

Sean finally got one late in the game, a nice mud-rubbed ball that did not look like it had been used.

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Of course, it was not the Rockies’ 25th or AZ ST ball we were hoping to get, but a nice one nonetheless.

There was no lineup card posted in the Colorado bullpen as best we could tell.  There was one in the Nationals’ bullpen, so I tried there while Sean tried for the Rockies as well as to try and get another ball.

We both struck out.  Nationals bullpen coach Henry Blanco acknowledged my request, but shook his head “no” and kept it himself.  I wonder if the fact that the Nationals lost had anything to do with it.

Sean got ignored and neither he nor my nephew scored another ball.

Still, it was a great trip.  We got eight balls total over three games, including a Braves 2017 commem and a 2018 FL ST ball.  We also got two more bullpen lineup cards from teams we had not previously scored lineup cards from.

Time to start looking into going to our next MLB game!

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4/11 – Nats Park (part 1)

After seeing the Blue Jays-Orioles game the night before, Sean and I headed from Baltimore to Washington DC the next morning for a Braves-Nationals matinee.

We got there a few minutes before the 11am gate opening, and there was hardly anyone else there.

When we got in, we found out there was unfortunately no batting practice.

However, there were a few Nationals players warming up and a Braves’ pitcher was also throwing a bullpen session.  We decided to watching the Braves pitcher as there was essentially no one else there.

The Braves’ pitcher was Sean Newcomb, who we had seen pitch when he was at the University of Hartford.  After 10-15 minutes, Newcomb swapped balls with Chuck Hernandez, and I asked Chuck for the ball, which he threw to Sean.

I had been eyeing the Braves’ ball bag directly below us.  It was clear to me that there was a mix of standard ROMLB balls, some Florida Spring Training balls, and it looked like another logo that I couldn’t make out.

 

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The ball Hernandez tossed to Sean turned out to be the latter, and the logo was last year’s inaugural SunTrust ball, which I had somehow forgotten about!  The logo was a bit beaten up, but still a great score.

More players came out to warm-up.  We got Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington to toss us each a ball.  Mine was a ROMLB.  Sean scored a FL Spring Training ball!

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There was no more action on the field at this point, so we had lunch. By the time we came back, the starting pitchers were starting to warm up.

Braves’ assistant coach Sal Fasano was working with starting catcher Kurt Suzuki in the bullpen.  When they were done, Fasano tossed Sean a ROMLB, Sean’s third of the day.

That would be it for baseballs for us on this day, but who can complain about a total of four balls on a day with no BP?

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Sean and the FL ST ball he snagged in warm-ups

The game would go 12 innings, with the Braves eventually winning, 5-3.

Well before the game, we had asked Atlanta bullpen coach Marty Reed if we could get his bullpen lineup card, and he had said yes.  From past experience, we know that doesn’t always mean we will end up getting it, however.  In fact, former Braves’ bullpen coach Eddie Perez had blown me off three years ago after telling me I could have his lineup card after the game (https://lineupcards.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/june-2015-major-league-dis-by-braves-eddie-perez/)

In the picture below, our seats were on the right side of the Braves’ bullpen.  The lineup card was taped to the wall on the other side of the bullpen (arrow).

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We moved to that side of the bullpen late in the game. When the game ended, we again asked Reed for the lineup card, and he obliged.

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As bullpen lineup cards go, this is one of the nicer ones we have gotten. The watermarks, in particular, are neat.

It is the 8th different team we have scored a bullpen lineup card from (Nats, Marlins, Indians, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays are the others), and is our 12th bullpen lineup card.  We have been very fortunate!

2018: 3 lineup cards (2 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 161 lineup cards (110 dugout/bullpen; 48 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

4/10/18 – Charm City

Sean and I headed down to Charm City (aka, Baltimore) for a short spring break/baseball trip.

Our first game was the Blue Jays @ the Orioles, a Tuesday night affair.

It is supposed to be spring, but the temperatures say otherwise.  The game time temp was 49, but it went down pretty significantly from there.  So the crowd at Camden Yards was small (8,640 announced).

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There was batting practice before the game, and after a slow start during the Orioles portion, it picked up during Toronto’s turn.

We got three balls, all ROMLB.  Sean scored a toss-up from Baltimore’s Miguel Castro, and we each got a hit ball during Toronto’s session. I probably should have had at least a couple more, but so it goes.

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One of the BP balls Sean got; he also took the picture

After eating, we headed to the bullpen area to watching the starting pitchers warm up.  Without us asking, Baltimore bullpen coach Alan Mills hooked up Sean with a pouch of bubble gum, which was awesome.

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The point of this picture…

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…was to get the no-shirted “Captain Bird Man” (I made that name up.  I have no idea what name he goes by, if any) in the background. He was still shirt-less at the end of the game, when the temps had to have dropped about 10 degrees.

The game moved quickly.  Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez took a no-hitter into the 8th inning.  The Blue Jays scored top 8, but the O’s answered in the bottom of the frame.

Curtis Granderson hit a two-out solo blast in the 9th for the Blue Jays which would prove to be the game-winner.  It was neat to see another ballhawk, Alex Kopp, snag the game-winning HR on the fly.

Blue Jays’ bullpen coach Dane Johnson was nice enough to hook us up with Toronto’s bullpen lineup card after the game.  It was the 7th MLB team we have gotten a bullpen lineup card from.

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2018: 2 lineup cards (1 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 160 lineup cards (109 dugout/bullpen; 48 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)

Leagues: MLB: American League; National League; 2017 ALDS.  MiLB: International League (AAA); Pacific Coast League (AAA); Eastern League (AA); Southern League (AA); Carolina League (A); New York-Penn League (A), including 2017 NYPL ASG. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association; Frontier League. Colleges: NCAA – America East Conference; NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; NCAA – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference; NCAA – Northeast Conference; Cape Cod League; NJCAA – Region XXI; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL); Cal Ripken Summer Collegiate League. International: World Baseball Classic (qualifying round, 2016).

2018, Here We Go!

The 2018 baseball season is here, sort of.

Technically, here in Connecticut there is still snow on the ground.  But I was able to travel 600 miles south last weekend to North Carolina to see my nephew’s JUCO baseball game.

I would generally say that JUCO baseball is to NCAA Division 1 baseball what independent professional baseball is to Triple-A MiLB.  Everything is a little rougher around the edges, but still solid baseball.  And the bottom line was that it was good to see a game!

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Nephew taking a lead off first base

My nephew’s team won both games of the double-header.  He didn’t start the second game, and I had a 10-hour drive home, so I said my goodbye between games and hit the road shortly after the second game started.

I asked the umpire for the lineup cards after the first game, but he said he needed them to file his game report.  I did manage to score our first baseball of 2018, a JUCO “Region X” ball.

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The day before the game, I stopped to check out Legion Field, home of the Appalachian Rookie League’s Danville Braves.

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I also managed to find a well-worn Appalachian League ball.

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Here’s to hoping Spring shows up here in Connecticut sooner than later!

Our 10 Favorite Lineup Cards from 2017

While we were extremely fortunate to get 36 lineup cards in 2017, it paled in comparison to the 59 and 62 we got in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Still, in terms of quality, a few of the cards we got in 2017 are as good as any we’ve gotten.

Our Top 10 lineup cards from 2017:

#10 Cape Cod League All Star Game — It was tough to keep it to 10.  There was the Long Island Ducks’ card that included 2003 Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne from his very short comeback attempt; the “Game Day” card we got at the Mariners-Red Sox game; and our first Aberdeen Ironbirds’ dugout lineup card.  But in the 10th spot, I am going with the 2017 Cape Cod League All Star Game.

It’s the second Cape League ASG we’ve gone to, and we have been lucky to get lineup cards both times.  This year’s was the same design as the 2015 card we have but still neat. It is almost a certainty that one or more players in the 2017 game will eventually become an MLB star.

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#9 Baltimore Orioles — This one would probably be higher if we didn’t already have two other O’s bullpen lineup cards from games at Fenway in 2016.  That said, it’s still awesome to walk out of Fenway with a prize like this regardless of how many you already have.

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#8 Quinnipiac University @ University of Hartford, Dunkin’ Donuts Park (Hartford) — So, how did a couple of unimpressive looking, low-level D1 college official batting order cards get on here?  It just so happens that Quinnipiac and U of Hartford played the first-ever game at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.  It was a soft opening for the MiLB Hartford Yard Goat game two nights later.  A couple pieces of history for sure!

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#7 New York Penn League All Star Game —

My goal at the 2017 NYPL ASG was to snag an ASG ball.  The problem was, for whatever reason, they didn’t use one.  Major bummer.  But when you get dealt lemons, make lemonade, right?  So I turned my focus to trying to get a lineup card.  Long story short, I got one.  It’s curious in the sense that it’s got the Midwestern League’s Peoria Chiefs logo on it.  But it is the first lineup card we have gotten from a professional ASG, and a great score.

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#6 Florence Freedom — Our first Frontier League lineup card, and a neat one at that given the “Daily Team Worksheet” on the back of it.

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#5 Tacoma Rainiers — Another first: not only the Rainiers, but the Pacific Coast League.  It’s a sweet card with the PCL and team logo watermarks.  It was also an adventure to get it: up early to get a plane, a few hours’ work, an 1:15 drive to the game, and a fairly lengthy rain delay.  But well worth it after the fact.

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#4 Red Sox — Our first Red Sox lineup card!  It would not be our last of 2017…

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#3 Mets @ Nationals, September  30, 2009 — We were given this, our first MLB dugout lineup card, by someone from one of the teams.  The only thing keeping this from being #1 is that we unfortunately did not get it at the game ourselves.

MLB dugout lineup card framed

 

#2 Nationals — Our first trip to Great American Ballpark, and we came away with the bullpen lineup card from my favorite team, the Nationals, our first from them.

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#1 ALDS Game 3, Houston Astros @ Boston Red Sox — Our first-ever playoff game.  We only decided to go about 24 hours before the game thanks to finding a good deal on tickets.  Getting Boston’s bullpen lineup card after the game capped a great game and season!

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October Recap

This is the first time I’ve written an “October recap” which is good news because it means we saw some baseball in October, which isn’t normally the case for us here in New England.

The first game was my nephew’s game against an NCAA Division 3 team that I went to by myself.  I was happy to find one of these.

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The last two games were with Sean.  We went to an ALDS playoff game, Game 3, between the Astros and Red Sox.  It was our first-ever playoff game, and walking away with this beaut from the Red Sox bullpen after the game (unframed, of course!) capped an awesome day.

ALDS LINEUP CARD FRAMED

 

Our final game was another one of my nephew’s fall scrimmages, where we found a couple of these.

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To make the end of our baseball season just a little bit better, we were sent this MLB dugout card from a 2009 Mets-Nationals game.

MLB dugout lineup card framed

 

When does 2018 Spring Training start?!?

 

 

World Baseball Classic Lineup Card Collection

September 20, 2016 – World Baseball Classic qualifier, Pakistan Vs. Brasil @ MCU Park in Brooklyn, NY (Tom)

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WBC officials were keeping the dugout lineup cards, so I was very fortunate to get Pakistan’s batting order card from one of the Pakistani coaches.

I decided to ask MLB, which runs the WBC, for the dugout lineup card.  About two weeks later, this came in the mail.

WBC Lineup card

It’s an awesome card for many reasons, including the fact that it is signed by Brasil manager and MLB Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.