It was great to get to my first MLB game of the season, the Orioles versus Red Sox at Fenway Park, but disappointing not to have Sean with me as he continues to recover from a concussion he suffered three-and-a-half months ago.
We had been eyeing this game for a few months knowing that there might be a chance to score a Camden Yards’ 25th Anniversary baseball that the Orioles are using this season. It wouldn’t be easy, though, as the Orioles would likely only have them in their bullpen bag, if they had them at all.
The day got off to a bad start with BP cancelled due to a couple showers.
It’s too bad because the weather got nice again shortly thereafter for the rest of the evening.
In the picture above, you’ll notice two baseballs in center field. They were there when I got in. No players were on the field at that time, so I don’t know how they got there.
Some Orioles pitchers came out and started warming up. Eventually, Vidal Nuño threw me one the balls. It was a regular Manfred ball that appeared to be mud-rubbed and in good shape. Could it have been a gamer at some point? Who knows.
I hung out by the Baltimore bullpen before the game as starter Ubaldo Jimenez warmed up. Hopes of scoring a Camden Yards 25th seemed dashed as the Orioles only seemed to be using Florida Spring Training (FL ST) balls. There were also a lot of kids by the bullpen, so I didn’t get a toss-up anyway.
The game itself was essentially over shortly after it started. Red Sox starter Steven Wright gave up eight runs before being lifted in the second inning. The Sox pulled within four runs, 9-5, in the fifth, but Baltimore tacked on three more runs for the final margin of 12-5.
The decision I had to make was whether to stand by the Orioles or Boston bullpen after the game. The Orioles had a new bullpen coach, Alan Mills. Previous bullpen coach Dom Chiti posted the Baltimore lineup card on the bullpen wall adjacent to section 87, and we got them at both Fenway games we attended last season. But I noticed right away that Mills posted the card on the inside of the bullpen dugout.
Would Mills give the card away, would he leave it for security to give away, or just take it with him?
The other option was to try for Boston’s bullpen lineup card, which we had never done before. As best I can tell, the Red Sox do not post the lineup card anywhere in the bullpen, so I have no idea if they give it away.
I decided to play what I thought were the better odds and go for the Baltimore lineup card. Between the score and the fact that the game was so slow — it took 3:46 — the stands slowly but surely emptied as the game went on, and I was able to get into section 87 and then move to a seat right up against the Baltimore bullpen fence, and almost directly above the Baltimore bullpen bag.
I took a few looks into the bag, and could still only see FL ST balls.
When the game ended, an Orioles reliever — I think it was Zach Britton, who had not pitched — grabbed a couple balls from the bag and handed them to two young boys sitting behind me.
I snuck another look into the bag, and among the FL ST balls, I could see a Camden Yards 25th ball as well as a ball with pink laces that had to be a Mother’s Day ball!
When the bullpen catcher came to grab the bag, I nicely begged for a 25th ball. He ignored me, closed the bag, picked it up and started walking to the Oriole’s dugout.
It was a huge downer as I would’ve loved to score our first 2017 MLB commemorative right there and then.
The good news is that when I asked Mills for the lineup card, he obliged and handed it to me. One out of two ain’t bad!
It wasn’t until I started writing this blog that I realized that Sean and I had gotten our first Baltimore lineup card exactly one year earlier. The lineup sure does look different without “Ortiz” on it any more.
This was our sixth MLB lineup card, all from the visiting teams’ bullpen: three Orioles all from Fenway; two Marlins both from Nats Park; and one Rays also from Fenway.
To walk out of any MLB game with a lineup card is awesome and lessened the sting of not scoring the 25th anniversary ball, which we hopefully will be able to get later this season.
2017: 6 lineup cards (1 dugout/bullpen; 5 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 127 lineup cards (88 dugout/bullpen; 37 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League; Eastern League; Carolina League; New York-Penn League; Southern League. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association. 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).