Considering we only made it to five games in May, we did very well to get eight lineup cards.
The highlight was the lineup card from the Boston Red Sox bullpen in a May 27 shutout victory over the Seattle Mariners.
In the four previous games at Fenway in which we had tried for a lineup card, we had always tried the visitors bullpen. The only reason we tried the Boston bullpen in this case was because Mariner bullpen coach Mike Hampton had told me before the game that he keeps his bullpen lineup card.
We also got this interesting “Today’s Lineup” card at the same game.
I was happy to add this Long Island Ducks lineup card with 2003 Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne on it.
The biggest misses of the month? It would have been nice to get Seattle’s bullpen lineup card, but we probably would not have gotten Boston’s in that case, so it’s hard to get upset over that. We had hoped to score a Mariners’ 40th anniversary ball during that game, but never saw any.
In early April, I went to the first-ever game at Hartford’s new Dunkin’ Donuts Park between Quinnipiac and the University of Hartford.
Last night, I made it to my first Hartford Yard Goats game at the stadium to see the home team play the Richmond Flying Squirrels in a match-up of AA Eastern League teams.
I had avoided Yard Goat games at Dunkin’ Donuts Park so far this season because they typically have been crowded with people wanting to see the new stadium.
Last night was the perfect combination of us not having anything going on, an early weekday game after a holiday, the kids are still in school and the weather, while not awful, was poor enough that it would keep some folks away.
As expected, it was a small crowd which gave me the opportunity to move around a bit.
Hartford scored five runs in the third and three more in the fourth to break it open en route to a 12-2 victory.
It’s not often that you see the team on the good side of a 12-2 margin get outhit, but that’s what happened last night, with the Flying Squirrels out-hitting Hartford nine-to-seven. But the Yard Goats took advantage of 12 Richmond walks.
Hartford hit one home run late in the game, which meant that steam erupted from the large Dunkin’ Donuts cup atop the Left Field scoreboard. I was a little late in taking the picture, but you can still see a little steam left over.
For whatever reason, I decided to try and get Richmond’s lineup card, which I knew was risky given the lopsided loss. I am not sure what I was thinking because we already have a Richmond dugout lineup card from 2015. Richmond manager Kyle Haines did respond to my request, but told me he had promised it to someone else.
I was very fortunate to at least get the official batting order cards from the home plate umpire.
Neither team has any elite prospects. Andrew Suarez was a second round pick for the Giants, but didn’t pitch in this game. The same goes for Rockies’ 2nd round pick Ryan Castellani. Yard Goat first baseman Ryan McMahon was also a 2nd round pick back in 2013 and is hitting .326 for the Goats.
2017: 15 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 136 lineup cards (92 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)
I’ll start with the bad news first: Kate and I went to the Mariners at Red Sox game at Fenway yesterday hoping to score a Mariners’ 40th season commemorative baseball. We didn’t get one.
There were reports just a few weeks ago that the Mariners used the commemoratives in BP at Toronto. But earlier this week when Seattle played at the Nationals, none of the ballhawks who posted saw any during BP.
We hoped Seattle would at least have them in their pitchers’ bag. But the half-dozen or so balls we saw come out of the Mariners’ bullpen bag were all ROMLBs, including the ball Kate got after “King Felix” Hernandez finished his bullpen session. So it goes.
Everything else went incredibly well.
One of the neat things about Fenway is that you’ll almost certainly find something you have never seen before if you look closely enough.
Yesterday was no different. While walking through a concourse under the bleachers, I happened to notice a door on it with an 11 x 8.5 removable sign on it in a plastic case next to it. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it, but the door itself said something about only being for authorized personnel such as employees and media. The removable sign next to the door had the schedule for the day, as well as tomorrow’s game. I couldn’t tell if the sign was paper or cardboard because it was inserted into a plastic case.
Long story short, shortly before the game started, we walked back over there and a Red Sox employee came out of the door. I explained that it was Kate’s first Red Sox game at Fenway and if it was OK, we’ve love to have today’s schedule as a souvenir of sorts.
He initially said no, he couldn’t give it to me, so I asked him if there was anyone else I could ask. He said he would check, and went back in the door. After a couple minutes, he emerged with the same version of the schedule that was next to the door.
Here it is, with Fenway in the background:
Very cool, maybe not as cool as a lineup card, but still neat. But what do you call it?
It’s not the first time I have seen one of these. Another ballhawk/blogger has gotten a few at Twins games. He refers to them as Batting Practice Lineup Cards. The Cards he has gotten from the Twins includes the BP hitting groups, so that makes sense to me. But the Red Sox card doesn’t go to that level of detail about BP (for the record, while I like both cards, I like the Twins card better), so I am inclined to call it “Today’s Lineup” card. Whatever the case, it’s cool and we were happy to get one.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and coasted to a 6-0 win. The highlights included Mookie Betts robbing a Mariners player of a home run and Jackie Bradley crushing a two-run homer.
As the game neared it end, we had to decide what we’d try for. Before the game, I had a chance to ask Mariners bullpen coach Mike Hampton for his lineup card after the game. He said that he kept it. So we knew that was out. While we still wanted to try for a Mariners commemorative, we didn’t know if there were any in the bag, and losing the way they were, it was doubtful the Mariners bullpen would be giving away many baseballs.
We thought abut trying for an umpire ball and/or official lineup cards, but it was still so crowded around the dugout area, it was doubtful we could get where we would need to be, and even if we did, there’d likely be several kids with the same idea in mind.
The best option seemed to be to try the Red Sox bullpen for their lineup card. But I have never tried for their card before, nor have I seen it in the bullpen dugout.
Still, it seemed the best bet, even if it might not be a good bet. So we positioned ourselves as close to the Red Sox bullpen as possible for the top of the 9th.
When the game ended, I hustled to the railing behind the Red Sox bullpen dugout. The Red Sox bullpen dugout doesn’t set up nearly as well for seeing into as the visitors bullpen.
I could just about see bullpen Coach Dana LeVangie taking something off the wall, a little ways from where I was, but there was a full line of people along the railing, so I stayed where I was and called out to him. Sure enough, about 15 second later, he appeared out of the bullpen, started walking my way, and handed me his lineup card.
Awesome! It was our first Red Sox lineup card, the fourth MLB team we have gotten one from (Orioles, Rays and Marlins are the others) and seventh overall. We saw in one of the Red Sox souvenir stores that they were selling yesterday’s dugout card for $100. Sure, the MLB dugout cards are much nicer, but I’ll take bullpen one for nothing any day.
2017: 13 lineup cards (5 dugout/bullpen; 7 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 134 lineup cards (92 dugout/bullpen; 39 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)
We got off to a slower start this year as compared with the previous two years. Sean is still recovering from a concussion he suffered four-plus months ago, and Kate has been busy with her robotics team.
Still, we made the most of the opportunities we had in March/April:
- Getting lineup cards from both teams (Quinnipiac and U Hartford) in the first-ever game played at Dunkin’ Donuts Park)
- Getting the Baltimore bullpen line-up card after a game against the Red Sox at Fenway
- Getting the first of hopefully many Atlantic League 20th Anniversary baseballs at a New Britain Bees’ exhibition game
The lone disappointment was not being able to get a lineup card from a Syracuse Chiefs at Pawtucket Red Sox Game.
May will likely also be a fairly quiet month as Sean continues to recover and Kate wraps up robotics. Hopefully, we’ll be back in the swing of things by June!
I headed to a Pawsox matinee game against the Syracuse Chiefs.
Last year, Sean and I got our first Triple-A lineup card at a Pawsox game on this very date. This year, I was flying solo without Sean.
I got to the game early, and was able to ask Syracuse manager Billy Gardner Jr. if I could get his lineup card after the game. He said yes.
Fast forward about three hours. The Chiefs had gotten a great start out of Nats pitcher Joe Ross, who started the season at AAA as the Nats didn’t need a 5th starter. But the Syracuse offense was almost non-existent, and the score was 1-1 heading to the bottom of the 9th.
Of course, the Chiefs lost. A throwing errors allowed Pawtucket’s first batter to get all the way the second, and a bloop two-out single gave the Pawsox the win.
I had been rooting for Syracuse 1) because I am a Nats fan, and 2) even though Gardner had said he’d give me the lineup card, I knew I had a better chance of that happening if the Chiefs won.
So the walk-off loss was bad news.
McCoy Stadium is unique in that the dugouts and playing field are about eight feet below the lowest row of stands. So in the picture below, you have to be a couple sections away from the dugouts in order to see into them. If you are by the dugouts, you cannot see into them.
When the game ended, I immediately headed to right above where the lineup card was and asked for it a few times. No response. It’s easy to be ignored when players/coaches don’t have to look at you.
I then headed down a couple sections to see if the lineup card was still up, and it wasn’t. That was that.
I headed over to the Pawsox dugout, and there lineup card was also gone by that time, too.
I had thought about just trying to get the lineup cards from the home plate umpire if the Chiefs lost on a walk-off, but there’s no guarantee they would have given them and even if they did, they’re not as nice as the dugout version. I could have also tried for the Pawsox lineup card, but we had done that last year and the manager apparently kept it.
I think I made the right call, it just didn’t work out.
I did manage to get a few baseballs that flew out of the stadium. And it was a good game, so it was still a good day.
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”)
Our last month of going to games for the 2016 season ended with a bang.
Not only did we get 10 more lineup cards, but we also got a couple of game-used hats and another ball for our baseball collection.
Kate and I started off the month with a New Britain Bees game, her first ever.
Later that weekend, we went to the final Connecticut Tigers game of the season, against the Tri-City Valley Cats. Sean got a Tigers hat from pitching coach Ace Adams and I got the Tri-City lineup card, which Kate is holding below.
I saw the Orioles play the Red Sox at Fenway Park a week later, and was fortunate to get the Orioles bullpen lineup card.
Sean and I went to the final New Britain Bees game of the season in mid-September. Sean’s goal was to try and get a hat from a New Britain player. He had to ask a few players before Jon Dziomba was nice enough to hook Sean up with his hat.
In September, we were sent a Pensacola Blue Wahoos lineup card, our first lineup card from the Southern League and first lineup card via mail.
Saving the best for last, I went to the first day of the World Baseball Classic qualifier at MCU Park in Brooklyn, NY (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones) with the goal of getting a 2016 WBC qualifier baseball and lineup card.
I got a few baseballs and the Pakistan batting order card that day.
To get one of the dugout lineup cards, I had to contact Major League Baseball, which runs the WBC. It took two-plus weeks, but it was well worth it as I was sent Brazil’s dugout lineup card, signed by manager Barry Larkin.
September turned out to be a great ending to our 2016 season of going to baseball games!