As I mentioned in a previous post, I got tickets to both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game in St. Louis. The weather was perfect, the food was good and the beer was cold. That’s a recipe for an excellent time at the ballpark.
I saw way too much stuff to cram into one post, so this will have to be split up. I’m not sure how many it will take, but I will try to be concise. No promises, though.
I woke up on Monday morning and took the two hour jaunt down I-70 to St. Louis only to find that I had…you guessed it…another flat tire. Luckily, this one wasn’t completely flat and I was able to make it all the way there before it blew. I met my Dad and we decided to just leave my car parked for the weekend. This was one the first of many good decisions we would make that day.
We made our way to the public library where my Dad had to do a bit of research on something, so I walked around their display about the Negro Leagues while he did it.
Once that business was taken care of we went to look for parking around the stadium which was no easy task. Downtown was already a zoo at two o’clock. Most of the street parking had already been taken and all the lots were anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars. We weren’t willing to pay that much. That led us to good decision #2. We looked on our map and picked a random street to try and find a parking spot. Naturally, we missed our street and ended up over a bridge. Fortunately for us, that street just happened to have street parking about a block away from the stadium. We parked between two of the $30 parking lots.
We bought beers at the first stand we passed (good decision #3) and they only got more expensive from there.
From there we made our way into the stadium and who is the first person to run into me? This guy. No joke. I only knew who he was because of his awesome t-shirt. Living up to his cool guy image, he was pushing by me, sprinting to the bleachers. I noticed during the replay of the Derby that you could see him sprinting back and forth above the bullpen. Way to go man. Hope you got a ball.
Anyway, Dad and I stood in the corner of the right field bullpen to watch batting practice. I love chatting with the people around me and occasionally getting a baseball if it’s hit in my direction. During BP, Albert Pujols was launching balls to the back of the bleachers while the rest of the hitters were…well, they’re weren’t hitting them to the back of the bleachers. My pick to win was looking good (though Nelson Cruz impressed me, as well).
As the afternoon wore on, the guy standing next to my Dad got two balls including one that hit the pitching rubber in the bullpen and bounced up to his glove. It was impressive. Then Adrian Gonzalez hit a ball directly at us. It was headed right to my glove. All I had to do was catch it. Then, it got lost in the sun. It landed to seats over from me, which is good because I didn’t have any idea where it was until it hit the bleachers. Foreshadowing? I don’t know….
Right about that time, the usher started clearing the people who didn’t have tickets in the bleachers from the area. This was about the time that Carlos Pena, Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau and some other left handed power hitters started taking their cuts in the cage. Now, after Josh Hamilton’s Ruthian display in last years Home Run Derby I wanted to see this for myself. I convinced Dad to hang around the standing room only section until they were done. This was good decision #4.
Dad went to sit in one of the seats above the aisle while I watched the proceedings. I couldn’t see the hitters, but I knew that balls were going over my head, so good things were happening. About that time, the people around me started to get excited; the sort of excitement that could only mean one thing.
I couldn’t see the ball, so I hoped it didn’t hit me in the head (more foreshadowing? Ooooo….). The guys next to me readied their gloves and stabbed at the ball. They missed. It fell tantalizingly to the ground as I watched hands swipe at it in vain.
I seized the opportunity.
I shot my right hand out and snagged it. Two hands grabbed mine and started to pry my fingers off. My pinky started to slip. If he got one finger, the rest were sure to follow. For a split second, I was worried. Then, he let go. The ball was mine.
I was excited. I’m still pretty excited. The concrete had skinned my middle finger and part of my ring finger nail was missing. Catching balls at the Home Run Derby is a violent affair, apparently. Josh Hamilton hit it, and I caught it. Pretty cool.
I’m going to end Part 1 here because this is getting pretty long. Tune it tomorrow for Part 2 which will include good decision #5 and the actual Derby itself and maybe some other stuff.
Filed under: MLB | Tagged: 2009 All-Star Game, 2009 Home Run Derby, All-Star, All-Star Game, Baseball, Busch Stadium, Home Run Derby, Josh Hamilton, Live Events, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball All-Star Game, MLB |