It finally happened last night! As Baseball players chase their 3000th hit Ballhawks chase that same MAGICAL NUMBER! So here ya go with a re-cap of the days action!
The day started out with me arriving at Dodger Stadium about 3pm. If you go up by the ticket office and souvenir stand you can even walk into the stadium. While it looks like a nice day in the photos it had been overcast and there was actually a threat of rain. Thankfully when I walked in I saw all the BP stuff being set up by the groundscrew.
Here are a few photos that you can click on to take a look at!
Just before 4pm I met up with friend and fellow Ballhawk, Devo. Devo is a partial season ticket plan holder and has the neat little passes that get you into the parking lot and stadium at 4pm. Yes the Dodgers open the stadium to season ticket holders 3 hours before the game. They only let you down the left field line past 3rd base but it is always a good time.
We went into Dodger Stadium just after 4pm and went to the left field corner. I told Devo that my plan was NOT to do anything but catch my 3000th ball on the fly. We watched as a couple of Dodgers finished up some early BP and then the team started their regular BP session. I probably could have asked a player for a ball and I even told Devo that if I were going to ask anyone for a ball that the ONLY person I would ask was Javy Guerra.
Javy was a member of the Inland Empire 66er’s when I was the clubby there. One day after a 66er’s game the Dodgers put us all on a bus and we headed out to Dodger Stadium for the guys to see a Big League Game. That is actually one night I will never forget. After being on the field for Dodgers BP we headed over to our seats down the first base line for that game and I went to the RF corner to try to get a ball. I didn’t get a ball that night but the players and Javy sure had a good time yelling my name every time a foul ball came close to us!
Anyway, back to today’s game ……
Javy walked by and I said “Hello to him” and what do I hear ….. “Hey look, it’s the Ballhawk” ,,, that made my day. If you have never worked in baseball, especially the clubhouse, you don’t realize how great the relationships you make are. There is nothing like the fraternity of baseball.
Oddly I never took my camera out of the bag while we were in the left field corner. I must have had that feeling, actually, I am left handed and it is hard to take photos or video with a camera when you have a glove on your left hand. Hey FUJI, NIKON and CANON, one of you needs to make a backwards camera for left handed ballhawks so we can take photos and video with out left hand while we have a glove on the right hand!
There wasn’t a ball hit near us in the 45 minutes we were out there. At about 4:50 we headed over to the Left Field pavilion gate. Just as we were leaving the right field corner a new group was getting ready to get into the cage. That group included Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez, when he was with the Padres would hit some very high and long bombs to centerfield into “THE BEACH” at Petco park. At Dodger Stadium he has hit several BP homers into the center field opening.
As Devo and I were standing at the gate, which is about 120 feet from the center field opening and back drop, I noticed a ball that took one GIANT bounce over the larger gate and then looked as if it was headed toward the parking lot. I didn’t really want to go after it because I was committed to catching #3000 on the fly, however, Devo never saw it come out and no one else was around. I headed towards the center field area and the photo below explains where I picked up #3000. Lackluster I know but I had to get it out of the way, especially after the horrible night I had in Anaheim last week trying to get #3000. Below you will see 2 photos. One is with caption and the other has the details of the photo and where I grabbed #3000.
John Witt holding up his 3000th baseball caught at a regular season Major League Baseball game. – May 8th, 2013 Dodger Stadium.
While it was not the way I wanted to grab #3000 it was finally out of the way. The most ironic thing about getting my 3000th baseball was the fact that I grabbed it OUTSIDE of a major league stadium. For most of you that know me and my Ballhawking some of my best “Catches’ have come outside of stadiums. After all I spent many years on the corner of Waveland and Kenmore with the Chicago Ballhawks and I did snag the last ROOFTOP HR at Old Comiskey Park that landed in Armour Square park beyond left field at Old Comsikey. So getting #3000 outside of Dodger Stadium was pretty cool!
Shortly after that gates for the left field pavilion opened and Devo and I went in. I decided to put the camera away because I wanted today to be a great day as far as chasing baseballs. As the Dodgers BP went on it was clear that there were not going to be to many balls hit to us in the LF pavilion.
The oddest thing of the day was the one baseball that just cleared the outfield fence and went down under the stands. I was the only person to run after it and it simply disappeared. I looked under carts, in trash cans and everywhere else and it was simply gone! Oh well, that was about the only chance I had at a ball in LF. I actually had tickets for both the LF pavilion and the RF All you can eat section (go figure). Actually I picked up the All You Can Eat ticket for just $12 which is basically the cost of a Dodger Dog and Soda.
With the Dodgers BP being really bad and now Arizona taking to the field for their BP session I went around to the right field Pavilion. I had a great seat in section 310 and I was in the 1st row. I didn’t have the aisle seat but during BP it doesn’t matter. I stood at the top of the steps and during the 1st two groups of BP it was terrible.
At one point one of the only lefties in the first 2 groups was up and a couple walked up the stairs. They stopped to gawk and look around and wouldn’t ya know it a very catachable ball was hit just over the fence but I could not get to it because the stair well was blocked by them. There was only that one ball that was even close in the first 2 groups. It was not 6:10 and the hitting group that was getting into the cage had 3 lefties including Gerardo Parra. After the usual hitting the ball the other way it started to rain baseballs in right field. Ok so I say rain baseballs, but with the dry spell, the 10 or 12 balls that came up was a rainstorm of baseballs.
My 2nd ball of the day was a BP homer that just cleared the fence, hit the ground under the stands and I ran down and picked it up. I probably would have caught this one on the fly had I not tripped going down the stairs.
My 3rd ball of the day was a ball that was hit to about the same spot as #2. This time I did not trip down the stairs and I made a nice catch leaning over the railing, catching the ball between the stairwell and the outfield fence.
My 4th ball of the day was a toss up from an unknown Diamondbacks pitcher.
Ball #5 of the day was another ball that was hit into the first row of the section just above the stairs. A guy leaned over to make a barehanded grab and the ball hit his hands and fell right to my feet.
So with 5 baseballs caught basically within 20 minutes it turned out to be a very good day!
Below are some photos of players warming up before the game tonight! Clayton Kershaw, Didi Gregorious, Matt Kemp with Dodgers Stength and Condition coach Steven Downey and Wade Miley.
This picture below shows fellow Ballhawks and friends DEEP LEFT and DODGERFILMS aka Bobby Crosby along with a couple of their friends. Bobby has a lot of great videos that he has taken over the years at Dodger Games of himself catching home run balls during BP and games. Unfortunately this year the Dodgers and MLB have basically cut him off from filming anything. Hopefully they let him film again because it is a lot of fun to watch his videos!
Below is my view during the top of the 1st inning. I had the 3rd seat in the row and all was good until the bottom of the 1st when the people next to me showed up. Thankfully there were no HR’s hit this way during the game!
After warming up the Dodger outfielders toss up the ball into the stands. I had told Devo earlier in the day that every game I have sat in the RF All You Can Eat Pavilion I have got one of these warm up baseballs from Andre Ethier. After warming up in the top of the first Matt Kemp had the ball and threw it into the Left Center seats. During the bottom of the 1st innings the people sitting next to me came in so I moved to another section and in the photo below you see my view.
In the top of the 2nd inning Ethier and Kemp started playing catch. The guy in the grey sweatshirt in front of me and his buddy were to busy eating, in fact everyone but me seemed to be to busy eating . When Ethier turned around with the ball I stood up, raised my glove and Ethier threw it right to me. It actually scared the crap out of the guy in the grey sweatshirt because he had no clue the ball had been thrown.
Shortly after I got this ball I decided it was time to leave. Yes, us Ballhawks do occasionally leave games early. Plus I had a flight out of Orange County at 7am so I needed to get some sleep!
One of these days I will get someone to follow me around with a camera and sponsor me. Until then I am stuck taking the occasional photos here and there and writing more than taking photos!
It was an great night finally getting my 3000th baseball (regular season/All Star / post season/WBC)