This year, I went to my first ever Home Run Derby and All-Star game. It
certainly was an adventure! I’d been to one other All-Star Sunday- 2001 in
Seattle- but I was 16 back then and didn’t know jack. But after being a part of
the All-Star festivities this year, I now want to go every year!
I arrived in Phoenix on Sunday around 11am. I went straight to the stadium, and
got myself some balls (4) and some autographs (Ozzie Smith and Bryce Harper).
Not a bad day, if you ask me. I did, unfortunately miss out on the ONLY reason I
went- Mike Piazza. No autograph from him (though he did sign) and no
acknowledgment whatsoever. I don’t blame him, as there was a massive crowd
surrounding him, it was just a disappointment.
Monday, brought a new day of craziness. First, I went to FanFest, and got to
meet and take a picture with Mandy Moore (Thank you Zack Hample, even if you
don’t know who she is)! Then, I went to the Home Run Derby, and despite having
hats for 22 different teams, and 12 different jerseys/t-shirts, I consider
myself lucky to have gotten a ball. I had to leap for a ball James Shields
tossed in my direction, even though I was decked out in Rays gear. For whatever
reason, ushers demanded you stay in your ticketed seat in batting practice. I
was trapped a few rows back from the front, and there were even fans who harassed me for trying
to move closer.
Now Tuesday, the All-Star game itself, was a whole different monster. Despite
the fact you were allowed to go wherever you wanted for BP, the place was
Game 4 of the 2009 World Series between the Yankees and Phillies in Philadelphia
was the most hostile game I’ve ever been to. The first game at Shea Stadium
after 9/11 is the most emotional game I’ve ever been to. The final game at old
Yankee stadium was the most sentimental game I’ve ever been to. Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS
between the Mets and Cardinals at Shea was the most intense, and ultimately disappointing game I’ve ever been
to. The 2009 one-game playoff between the Tigers and Twins at the Metrodome is
the loudest game I’ve ever been to.
This game, sadly, felt like, it was the fakest game I’ve ever been to. Fans were
excited to be there, but no one seemed to give a damn who won. The majority of people
appeared to be Diamondbacks fans, and they were loudly booing Prince Fielder when
he came up to bat. When he hit his 3-run homer, they were the same people
immediately cheering him. So to say the least, it was an experience.
Now, I had decided that for this game, since I got a ball in BP from Kevin
Correia (Thank you Kevin!!! Go Pirates!!!), that I would sit in my seat in
Section 204, and simply enjoy the game. Sure enough, when Adrian Beltre came to bat in the top of the second, he fouled a ball off in my direction. I was watching the flight of this ball, thinking, wow, that’s gonna be close to here…ohmygod, it’s coming right to me………WHERE’S MY GLOVE?!?!?!!?!
Well, much like a foul ball I had caught earlier this year, I was sitting 2 seats away from where the ball landed. In that situation, I was wearing my glove, and made an easy one-handed catch. This time, with no glove on, I really had no chance to reach out and attempt to catch it. Instead, the man sitting on the aisle, reached out, barehanded, and deflected the ball into the lap of a woman sitting in the seat directly behind me.
Talk about devastating.
For about the next 4 innings, I was just simply in a haze. I took a walk to try and snap out of it, but all I could think about was the foul ball I should’ve caught at the all-star game. I couldn’t believe that I cost myself the ball, all because I didn’t take my glove out. I didn’t even need to be wearing it, it just should have been available to me.
Well, fortunately I was sitting with some wonderful friends, Jesse, Ian and Ian’s dad Jeff, who made forget about it. It really was a great game, and enjoyable to watch with them. (It didn’t hurt that 6 rows back of us in a luxury box, were Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Ernie Banks and Larry Fitzgerald).
Now I needed to focus on my next task, and that was to get to the NL dugout as quickly as possible when the game ended. They had a 5-1 lead going into the 9th, so I felt it was a safe bet to predict they’d win. I made my way down to the field level, and got as close as possible before the final out. I of course ran into Zack as I got down there. We hung out for a minute, and once the final out was made, proceeded down to the dugout, since we each had an agenda.
At the dugout, players were tossing things into the crowd, such as batting gloves, hat, balls, and even a bat! I failed to get any of these things, despite my immense wardrobe with which I could please any team’s players.
All the players had now cleared the field, except Prince Fielder. He was the MVP, and therefore was being interviewed. He hit a 3-run homer in the 4th that gave the NL the lead for good. Zack had left at this point, and told me to come out to left field, where a bunch of us were meeting to take pictures together. Well, just as I was getting ready to leave, it occurred to me, that not only did I have a Brewers hat, but I also had a Brewers shirt. Better yet, a Prince Fielder shirt!!! So, once I put that on, I was not going to leave until he headed into the dugout. In fact, I put the shirt on backwards so he would see his name on my shirt. I had planted myself right at the entrance of the dugout, so I was assured that Prince would see me.
Well, his interviews went on for about 15 minutes, and between Zack, and Greg Barasch, I must’ve received 10 phone calls/texts to get out to left field. But I knew I was NOT leaving until Prince left the field.
Finally, after kissing his wife and kids, Prince headed for the dugout. Now, leading up to this, there were 3 things I noticed. A. I was the only Prince Fielder fan in the crowd. B. I was the only Milwaukee Brewers fan (by appearance) AT ALL, in the crowd. And C. Prince Fielder had batting gloves in his back pocket. (Look closely at his back pocket!)
As he approached the dugout, he IMMEDIATELY noticed me, and pointed at me and gave a head nod. I shouted his name back, but there were a lot of people shouting, so I didn’t know if he could hear me. Once he entered into the dugout however, and got as close as he was gonna be, I quickly yelled “Prince, can I have your batting gloves?” I wasn’t sure whether or not he heard me, but two seconds later, I notice a cameraman point at me. He then looked back into the dugout, and Prince reappeared and tossed his batting gloves right to me!!! His beautiful, #28, All-Star batting gloves. His batting gloves which he used to hit a 3-run homer and ultimately win MVP.
OH HOW SWEET IT IS!!!!
I finally ran out to left field, and as I arrived I couldn’t hold back my excitement. I immediately apologized saying “Sorry for making you wait guys, but I was busy getting PRINCE FIELDER’S BATTING GLOVES!!!!” Everyone was enamored by them, and what a great snag it was.
My trip was memorable, but those, will forever be unforgettable.