The “holy grail” for our lineup card collection has been a Major League Baseball dugout lineup card.
It’s not that they are difficult to find. There are plenty available…for sale. Let me know if I am wrong, but I don’t think any MLB managers give out dugout lineup cards any more because the teams sell them, sometimes for hundreds of dollars each.
The problem is that we’ve never paid for a lineup card (aside from the cost of travel and tickets to a game), and are trying to keep it that way.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote to someone affiliated with MLB to see if they might be able to help us out.
On Friday, a box showed up with a Mets-Nationals lineup card from September 2009!
Very cool! Both the Mets and Nationals were awful in 2009, but there are still a few notable players, including Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Carlos Beltran, Adam Dunn and Gary Sheffield.
More importantly, we can add an MLB dugout lineup card to a collection that already includes MLB bullpen (including one from a 2017 ALDS playoff game), WBC, minor league, NCAA and college summer league lineup cards.
This is, I believe, the seventh lineup card we have from a game we did not attend. In a couple instances, we got cards from a previous day’s game.
It is also the oldest card, by five years, in our collection. We are counting it in our 2017 total as that is when we got it.
2017: 36 lineup cards (21 dugout/bullpen; 15 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 158 lineup cards (108 dugout/bullpen; 47 “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).
On Sunday the 16th, we headed into Cincinnati late morning, and wandered around the area near the stadium for a bit looking at things and taking a few pictures.
Main entrance to Great American Ballpark
Pete Rose statue
View across the Ohio River to Kentucky
When we got into the stadium, it was clear there was no batting practice, as is usually the case for a Sunday afternoon game. There were a couple Nats pitchers throwing and we waited for the chance to get a toss-up, along with another 100 or so people. We did not get one.
So, we wandered around the stadium.
Roebling Bridge in background
We had very good seats, on the home plate side of the Nationals dugout. I thought Kate would have a chance at a toss-up on a foul ball around home plate or third out ball, but nothing came our way.
For most of the game, we sat 6 rows from the field
Early in the game, I headed to the outfield sections to try and see if either/both teams had bullpen lineup cards posted. The bullpens at GABP are a bit wanky. There was no lineup card in the main portion of the Reds’ bullpen and no where in the stands to see into the front part of the bullpen where the pitchers and coaches sit.
Here’s what I could see in the Nats bullpen:
Nats bullpen coach Dan Firova with the bullpen lineup card on the wall to his left
The Nats blew the game open early and coasted to a 14-4 victory. Our end-of-the-game plan was for Kate to try for and umpire ball and/or lineup card from umpire Tim Timmons. Feeling bold for whatever reason, I would ask Washington manager Dusty Baker for his lineup card and could also ask Firova for his when he came in from the bullpen, if he took it with him.
I knew Kate wouldn’t have it easy going for an umpire ball because there was a lot of competition and not much space around the umpire exit at GABP. As it turned out, she said she narrowly missed a toss-up that went just over her glove.
I was in a great spot to ask Baker for his lineup card, which I did, but he ignored me. I knew he almost certainly wouldn’t give me the dugout lineup card because they sell those. I was hoping he might give me one or both of the official batting order cards, but no dice.
Firova also ignored me when I asked for the bullpen lineup card. I figured he probably left it in the bullpen, so we made a mad dash out there.
I had to sweet talk my way into the section near the visiting bullpen because the ushers had already closed it off by the time we got there. Luckily, the usher was cool about it.
Sure enough, the lineup card was still on the wall. There were three grounds crew guys working in the bullpen. I asked the one nearest me, he looked at the card on the wall, said no, then went back to work. I asked again for any of the three to help us out, but they all ignored me.
The usher now wanted me to leave but a more senior level employee had entered the bullpen so I quickly asked him. He was hesitant, but when I explained the Firova clearly didn’t want the card or he would have brought it in with him, and that it would mean a lot to us, he finally obliged. Bingo!
Someone in the Nats bullpen marked the card with an emphatic “W”
It’s always special to get a lineup card from a MLB game, but it was especially nice to get one on our first visit to GABP, me being a Nats fan and not having gotten a Nats lineup card before made it even better.
We had thoughts of hitting the first game of a Binghamton Rumble Ponies double-header on the drive home Monday, but there were was a thunder/lightnight/rain storm as we approached Binghamton, so we bagged it not wanting to sit through a delay. As it turned out, it was the right move because both games were postponed due to the storm.
We made it home Monday night with 1,997 miles, a robotics tournament win, three new stadiums visited, four lineup cards, a few Frontier League 25th Anniversary commemoratives, and lots of memories.
2017: 20 lineup cards (10 dugout/bullpen; 9 “official batting order”; 1 “today’s lineup” card)
Lifetime: 141 lineup cards (97 dugout/bullpen; 41 “official batting order”; 2 “relief pitcher usage”; and 1 “today’s lineup”)
I’m not superstitious per se, but on the other hand, I’m not one to tempt fate, either.
So I had not written anything about the fact that we had gotten at least one lineup card at all 16 games we had been to this season. Going back to last season, our streak was at 22 in a row, including three MLB games. I’d say that is pretty darn good.
But all good things must come to an end, and the streak went out the window as I came up empty lineup card-wise at last night’s Cubs @ Nationals game.
It wasn’t for lack of trying.
Before the game started, I asked Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode if I could get his lineup card after the game, but he shook his head no and said he keeps it. Strike one.
After the game, I asked home plate umpire Dan Iassogna for his lineup cards. He ignored me. Strike two.
It appeared to me that the Nats had left their lineup card on the wall in the bullpen. It took a while as the stadium was still pretty full when the game ended, but I eventually made it out to the Nats bullpen. There were three grounds crew guys in the bullpen and the card was in fact still on the wall. I asked them for it but they said no and then ignored me. It seems a shame that the card had obviously been left there and that they wouldn’t give it to me, but oh well. Strike three!
But –and this is a big BUT, not to mention a good one — I didn’t leave Nationals Park empty handed. I knew that the Cubs were using a commemorative baseball this season to celebrate 100 years of Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field. Those baseballs only get used during games at Wrigley, but sometimes, some commemorative balls make it onto the road in the BP ball bag, fielder ball bag and/or pitcher ball bag.
Kate and I had gone to a Cubs @ Mets game two years ago when the Cubs were using Wrigley Field 100 year commemorative balls, but I am pretty certain none of those balls were used during BP (I caught 2 and saw a few balls caught by others and all were ROMLBs). So I wasn’t overly optimistic last night.
I had hoped to get over to where the Cubs were playing catch early in BP as I thought that would be my best chance of maybe getting a Cubs commemorative, but that section of Nationals Park wasn’t open yet. Strike 1.
I had an awful BP. It was relatively crowded (lots of Cubs fans) and didn’t come very close to any balls. Even if I did get one during Cubs BP, it appeared to me that the Cubs balls were of the ROMLB variety. I tried to hang out near the Cubs bullpen after BP moreso to get any ball — not necessarily a Cubs ball –as there were several balls from BP sitting there, but I got kicked out as I didn’t have a ticket for that section. Strike 2.
I had all but given up on getting a Cub s commemorative at this point. After getting something to eat, for whatever reason, I wandered back over toward the Cubs bullpen section, but still thinking I had no chance of getting near it as ushers would be checking tickets.
They were, but I noticed one usher was well down in one of the nearby sections helping someone find their seat. I snuck in, then headed over to the bullpen.
There was a ballhawk by the name of Doug Hakey there. He showed me a Cubs commemorative toss up he had gotten. He left, but at this point the Cubs starter (Kyle Hendricks), catcher, two coaches and another guy had come out to the OF near the bullpen to start warming up. I stayed and watched. Then they came into the bullpen. This was the point where I asked Coach Strode if I could get his lineup card after the game, but got turned down. Kendricks started to throw again. There was a large bucket of new balls in the bullpen and it became clear it was full of Cubs commemoratives. Kendricks went through four balls while warming up. Three of them ended up with Strode. He held onto them at first. It took forever, because I know this was my only shot and I could get kicked out of the section at any point. Strode throws one to a little girl and then another to a little girl next to me. I had asked him a couple times already, now I go all out. He says he’d rather give one to a kid, which I understand. I tell him my 10-year old and I collect the commemoratives, which is of course true. He asks me where my 10-year old is, and I say he’s not here, but we collect the commemoratives and it would be awesome to add the Cubs ball to our collection. He looks away and then somewhat reluctantly tosses it up to me. Awesome!
Here it is shortly after I got it, with a blurry Nationals Park in the background:
I would’ve preferred one in better condition, but as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. It was an awesome score regardless of the condition!
So as sad as it was to see the lineup card streak end, scoring the Cubs commemorative in what will probably be our only chance to score an MLB commemorative this season more than made up for it.