Tagged: lineup card

7/11/18 – Crossing the Delaware River for an Eastern League ASG Ball

Okay, the title on this one is misleading.  Unlike George Washington, who famously crossed the Delaware River in a key Revolutionary War moment not far from Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park, I did not actually cross the Delaware.  Not even close.  But I did go into the Delaware to fish out our one and only Eastern League All Star Game ball!

Sean and I made the trip to Trenton, NJ for the annual East vs. West game, our first visit to the home of the Trenton Thunder.  The stadium was packed, particularly given that Tim Tebow was playing in the game.

Sean is dealing with some leg issues and getting around isn’t easy, so we didn’t try very hard for a BP ball, especially knowing they were using regular Eastern League balls.

EL3

Pre-game photo

We still managed to get on the board before the game started when former Yankee Scott Bradley, one of a few to throw ceremonial first pitches, tossed me his ball afterward.  I thought for sure it’d be one of the ASG balls they were supposed to be using, but it was not.  It was an out-of-the-box new, regular Eastern League ball.  Nice, but not what we were looking for.

We ballhawked outside the stadium for the first few innings.  I had a good chance to get two balls in the second inning, hit within a couple of minutes of each other, but another guy managed to beat me to both.  As it turned out, that was okay because they were both regular EL balls.

That’s the confusing/awful part.  The guy who got both balls saw another ball come out earlier in the game that ended up on some netting above a kids’ play area where it was un-reachable.  But you could clearly see that it was an ASG ball.  So why were the other two balls not ASG balls?

I’ve heard of them running of out ASG balls later in the game and then using regular balls.  But this was the second inning.

We also talked to a guy who got a game HR ball later in the game, and it was also a regular ball.  His guess was that one team was pitching ASG balls and the other pitching regular balls.  I don’t know if that was the case, but they definitely were mixing the balls during the game.

Hanging out inside the stadium for a while, a stadium employee gave Sean a ball but it was also an Eastern League ball.  I’m not sure if it came from the game or not, but we were 0-for-2 in terms of the ASG ball.

An inning later, a long foul ball was hit down the RF line that left the stadium.

EL4

 

As you can see in the picture above, the Delaware River runs alongside the first base line, and isn’t far from the stadium.

When we walked around the stadium before the game, I could see that it would be possible, if not likely, that a foul ball could end up in the river.  In some spots, there was no more than 15 yards from the stadium fence to a small fence before some undergrowth and then a short but steep drop to the river.

Half jokingly, I said to Sean that it might not be the worst idea to hang out down by the river and wait for a ball.

Back to the foul ball down the RF line mentioned above.

I wasn’t overly optimistic, but decided to go check it out.  There were some ballhawks outside, and I had no idea where the ball actually ended up, but knew there was a chance it made it down to the river, and it could have gone unnoticed.

I had to go down a little bit to find a spot where I could get down to the river bank, but once I did, it was easy to walk along the bank of the river as the water level was low.

I wish in hindsight I had taken pictures, but they were the furthest thing from my mind at the time.  I walked along the river for maybe 100 yards, looking into the water near the bank along the way.

Sure enough, I eventually saw something bobbing in the water, maybe 15 feet out.  As I got closer, I realized it was a baseball.

It was probably two feet deep, so I had to take off my sneakers and socks to wade out to get it.  As I was, the ball seemed to start taking the flow down river, luckily not too quickly.  So I rushed out and grabbed it.  I turned it over, and sure enough it was an ASG ball!

EL

Our wet 2018 Eastern League ASG ball, back in the stadium

It took me at least 5 minutes to get it, maybe longer, so the ball was wet.  It took a bit to dry out, and the seams puffed up a bit.  But the face of the ball is in great shape, so no complaints.

We watched the game through the end of the 7th inning, with no other ball opportunities.  It was getting late, Sean had had enough, so we decided to leave.

Interestingly, two balls came relatively near us as we left including a home run, but there were more ballhawks outside, so we didn’t have a chance to snag either.  As it turned out, they were both regular Eastern League balls.

The game was tied after 9 innings, and eventually was decided by a mini home run derby, which would have been fun to watch.

It never would have worked for us to stay late enough to try for a lineup card, but there was a tinge of disappointment when I saw a Twitter posting of the dugout lineup card later that night.

EL5

 

Maybe next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

6/24 & 6/26 – Lighthouses and Getting Shut Out In Aberdeen

I had a short work trip to DC. The drive down set up well for two baseball stops.

The first was an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) game.  We are at the point with our baseball collection where it is really hard to find new balls to chase anywhere nearby.  But the ACBL, a summer collegiate league with teams in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, provided just such a chance.

I didn’t have to go far out of my way to stop at Drew University in Madison, NJ to watch a few innings of an Allentown Railers @ Jersey Pilots game.

It turned out to be easy to score a few ACBL balls as there was a wooded/overgrown area along the first base line with no one chasing foul balls there.  I easily found a couple gamers from that day and others that had been there a little longer but were in good shape.

aberdeen3

 

The above isn’t the best ball I got, so the logo isn’t perfectly clear, but it is of a lighthouse.

I was not able to stay until the end of the game, so getting our first ACBL lineup card will have to wait.

My next stop, some 2+ hours further south, was Aberdeen, MD, home of the New York-Penn League’s Aberdeen Ironbirds.

I made it for the last three innings of the Vermont Lake Monsters at the Ironbirds, won by the Ironbirds, 7-2.

aberdeen5

 

I wandered around a little between innings, and saw this:

 

aberdeen4

 

… a KMart shopping cart full of BP balls.  I can’t help but wonder if there were any special balls mixed in there.

I decided to try for Vermont’s dugout lineup card after the game as there was no one near the home plate side of the dugout.  Unfortunately, an assistant coach said they keep their lineup cards.

So, I hustled over to the Aberdeen dugout.  As I got there, a photographer was peeling the lineup card off the wall.  I asked if I could have it, but he said no, he was getting it for a player who hit his first home run.

I looked it up afterward, and that player was Doran Turchin, a recent 14th round draft pick out of the University of Illinois.  So it wasn’t just his first Aberdeen homer, but his first professional home run.

It’s always a bummer to try twice and come up empty, but taking some of the sting away is the fact that we have gotten both a Vermont and Aberdeen dugout lineup card in the past.

On my way home from DC two days later, I timed it to stop by the Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Kansas City Royals’ affiliate, during batting practice.

aberdeen2

View from the parking lot behind the RF wall at Frawley Stadium

The hope was that maybe some Royals’ 50th season commemorative balls ended up in Wilmington for BP as has happened with other MLB teams/affiliates.  It was obviously a long shot, but Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium was on my way home, so no harm/no foul if it didn’t work out.

And it didn’t, at least not in terms of any commems or balls of interest otherwise.  I got 3 balls, saw a few others, and they were all Carolina League balls.

Getting the ACBL balls made it successful trip, and hopefully we’ll have a few new baseballs to write about in July.

 

6/3/18 – Singin’ the Blues

Sean and I headed over for the first game of a Sunday afternoon double-header between the North Shore Navigators and Bristol Blues of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) at Muzzy Field in Bristol, CT, best known as the home of ESPN.

It was a good game, with the Blues holding a 2-1 lead going into the final inning.

The Navs tied it up and had a runner on second base with one out.  The batter hit a slow roller to third, and the third baseman faked a throw to first and then threw to third where the runner had rounded the base, catching him in a pickle.  It looked like the runner was dead to rights, but the Bristol third baseman stayed in the baseline, got in the way of the runner to an extent, and was called for obstruction, which allowed the runner in the pickle to score what would turn out to be the game-winning run. (You can watch the play here — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNZpRZUrOII&feature=youtu.be&a= — at about the 2:05:15 mark).

Bristol manager Ronnie Palmer argued the call initially, and then after the next batter came to bat, hurled an f-bomb at the umpire who made the obstruction call, which got him ejected.

blues3

Palmer getting his money’s worth with the umpire after being ejected

Palmer raced out onto the field and argued with the umpire for a couple minutes before eventually leaving the field.

The Navs needed a great catch by their left fielder up against the outfield wall in the bottom of the inning to hold on for a 3-2 win.

Sean got a couple balls.  One was hit to the area where a blues band named “Murray the Wheel” was setting up to play between games of the double-header.  We had been on the other side of the field, and when we came over an inning later, I noticed the ball sitting in their area.  I told Sean he could ask them for the ball if he wanted, but that they may want to keep it.

They gave Sean the ball, and even signed it for him, not that Sean was looking for the signature.  But thanks to Murray the Wheel for hooking Sean up!

Blues4

 

Sean got another, non-signed ball, too.

Blues1

 

It’s the first regular season ball I have seen from any league that has the year (2018) on the ball.  Very cool!

We also got a lineup card from North Shore manager Todd Alford after the game.  Alford seemed like a good guy, and we talked for a couple minutes about the crazy obstruction play that helped his team earn the win.

Blues2

 

2018: 8 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 2 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup”)

Lifetime: 165 lineup cards (112 dugout/bullpen; 49 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 2 “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).

 

 

5/14/18 – A’s Bring 50th Anniversary Celebration To Fenway

The Oakland Athletics are celebrating their 50th season in Oakland this year, and brought some of the celebration to Fenway Park for a series against the Boston Red Sox earlier this week.

Namely, the A’s are using commemorative baseballs in home games this season, but they also have been bringing some of them on the road as practice balls.

With a rare night off from Little League and other activities Monday night, I headed to Boston for the series opener. Unfortunately, it’s just too long a trip/late a night for Sean or Kate to join me on a school night, so I flew solo.

Gates opened at 4:40pm, and the Red Sox were hitting.

A's 6

 

There were enough ballhawks to make it competitive, but not so many to call it crowded.

The Red Sox were good about tossing balls up to fans.  I got David Price to throw me a ball that turned out to be a 2018 Florida Spring Training ball, the only one I saw.

I later chased down a BP homer from an unknown Red Sox player.  It was a ROMLB that I gave to a boy later on.

The real fun started around 5:20 when the A’s took over BP, providing a chance to score a commemorative ball.

And at least some of the BP balls used by the A’s were in fact commemoratives. Based on the small sample of balls I saw, I’d estimate about half were commemorative.

One ballhawk scored two pretty quickly.  He was super nice to trade for the FL ST ball David Price threw me, as he didn’t have one of those yet.  Later on, I also gave him an Atlantic League 20th anniversary ball that I had brought with me.

A's 5

Oakland 50th anniversary commemorative baseball

I got a toss-up from an Oakland pitcher shortly thereafter, but sadly, it was a ROMLB which I gave to a kid.

Even worse, that would be the last ball I would get.  The stadium started to get crowded.  I headed to the area behind the A’s dugout thinking I’d have a better chance at getting a ball or two, still hoping for another commem.

But the A’s were not very generous with toss-ups.  I saw one ball given to a boy, and that was it.

I ate dinner quickly, then headed out to the Oakland bullpen. One of the bullpen catchers was nice enough to have a brief conversation with me about the commems.  He said they did not have any in their bullpen bag, just ROMLBs.  He even took a quick look in the bag.  It’s possible he was just brushing me off, but the only ball I saw come from the bullpen was in fact a ROMLB.

I was able to snag a “today’s lineup” card from the Red Sox.  This is the second one of these we have gotten.

A's 2

 

The stadium was crowded, but I was able to jump around and watch the game from different spots.

A's 3

 

In a good pitching matchup between Oakland’s Sean Manaea (who no-hit Boston last month) and Boston’s Rick Porcello, the A’s used three home runs to come away with a 6-5 win.

I tried for a post-game toss-up, but nothing was thrown near me.

I was all but sure both teams had lineup cards in their respective bullpens.

A's 4_LI (2)

The red arrow points to what I am all but certain was Boston’s bullpen lineup card

I decided to take a shot at getting the A’s bullpen lineup card since 1) they won and might be more likely to give it away, and 2) we already have a couple Boston lineup cards, but not an Oakland card.  So I hustled to the Oakland bullpen.

Sure enough, the A’s left the lineup card in their bullpen.  I had to wait a few minutes, but eventually got a Red Sox security person to hand it to me.

It was well the effort and wait.

A's

 

We have gotten 14 other bullpen lineup cards in the less-than five years we have been collecting them, but this was the first time we ever got an “official” MLB lineup card, the same as they use in the dugout that are almost always sold these days (we were given a dugout lineup card last year from a game we did not go to).

It is 11″ x 17″ and includes the Oakland 50th anniversary logo as one of three watermarks. This is easily the nicest lineup card we have ever gotten at a game.

2018: 7 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup”)

Lifetime: 164 lineup cards (112 dugout/bullpen; 48 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 2 “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).

5/9/18 – K-Rod Comes To New Britain

Francisco Rodriguez, better known in the baseball world as K-Rod, made a visit to New Britain last week with the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks.

K-Rod, 36, is a six-time MLB All Star with 437 career saves who is trying to make it back to “the Bigs” via the Atlantic League.

So far, so good.  He’s pitched 3 innings with two saves (including the game I went to) and has yet to give up a hit.

I caught the last couple innings of the Wednesday matinee game won by the Ducks, 7-4.  It was a school-day game with a listed attendance of over 6,000 at New Britain Stadium.  Even late in the game, there were far more people than there usually are at Bees’ games.

Ducks3

 

Here is K-Rod warming up before the 9th inning.

Ducks2

 

He shot the Bees down in order to notch the save and the Ducks’ win.

Long Island manager Kevin Baez squawked a bit when I asked him for the lineup card, but ultimately was nice enough to give it to me.  I like the notes he has on the lineup card, including batting averages against righties and lefties.

Ducks1

 

There are a few other names of note on the lineup card.  Jordany Valdespin, Reid Brignac and Lew Ford all played significant time in MLB.  Manny Ramirez Jr. for the Bees is the son of former MLB great Manny Ramirez.  And Ozney Guillen is the son of former MLB player and manager Ozzie Guillen.

2018: 5 lineup cards (4 dugout/bullpen; 1 “official batting order”)

Lifetime: 162 lineup cards (111 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).

 

 

Wally’s World Comes to New Britain

The New Britain Bees, looking for a much-needed spark both on and off the field (namely, more people in the seats), hired Wally Backman as manager in the off-season.

Backman is best known for his playing days, including winning a World Series with the Mets in 1986.  He was also the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for all of four days in 2004. His short stay was due to some alleged legal and financial items that came up in a couple media reports immediately following his hiring.

Backman is fiery without a doubt.  One only needs to search his name on YouTube to find some entertaining antics.

The Bees played a couple pre-season scrimmages over the weekend.  Sean and I headed over on Sunday afternoon to see New Britain host a team made up of all stars from a Connecticut amateur baseball league.

The hope is that Backman will help put some more fannies in the seats at New Britain Stadium.  I’ve noted in this blog on several occasions how disappointing the crowds have been the first two seasons.

Sunday was no different, despite it being a nice spring day in Connecticut, and no admission to watch the game.

backman4

Sparse crowd in New Britain

The Bees won easily, 11-1.

Sean and I watched the last half of the game.  He managed to snag three balls, and we found another outside the stadium.  The Bees were offering a ticket voucher for a free ticket to a regular season game for each ball returned to the concession stand, so we opted for that, thinking there will be more balls to come this season.

backman2

Sean with a snagged ball; the amateur team was using generic Rawlings balls when they were in the field

The Bees are under new ownership, and the baseballs they use are slightly different, namely, with the signature of new owner Anthony Iacovone.

backman3

2018 Atlantic League baseball used by the New Britain Bees

After the game, we headed to the New Britain dugout to ask Backman for his lineup card.  Not only did he give it to Sean, but he also signed it!

backman

 

Here’s to hoping for a good year for the Bees both on the field and at the gate!

2018: 4 lineup cards (3 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).

4/12 – 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.

rockies2

 

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.

rockies1

 

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!