Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Red Sox/Padres/Dave Roberts/Zack Hample Gallery

A gorgeous no-sleeves-needed evening in Boston for Padres-Red Sox. It was the Padres' second series at Fenway. I went to a game at the first one, a rainy night in June 2004. (I described it here in the early days of this blog--funny how I talk about "if my pictures come out." It was also a rare game that I actually left early, since I lived in Danbury, CT at the time, and was with other people and we all had to work the next morning.)

I knew baseball-snagger Zack Hample would be at this game from reading his blog. When I got in, I didn't see him (though a favorite player of his, Heath Bell, was right there warming up with his teammates). So I knew he must have been up on the Monster with the rest of the RSN early-entry people. But I still couldn't spot him. As a fan of his blog for about four years, I wanted to meet him, and I'd just bought his latest book for him to sign. To be continued....

I loved Glenn Hoffman when I was little. One of my early Red Sox faves. It's through him I learned how to take the throw from the second baseman and turn the double play--one of life's critical skills.

It wasn't long before I spotted Dave Roberts.

Here's another one of the man we worship.

I kept looking for Zack up on the Monster, and I finally spotted him.

Here's Zack trying to get Padres to throw balls up to him. Finally they did. See the video I shot:

A dick-ier man might have pushed that kid out of the way, but Zack let him take it, even though it was Zack who called for the ball. (You can also see Heath Bell down below.)

More Dave Roberts action.

Now that they've opened up all of the ballpark, I'm in my usual CF spot, and who's there but Zack. I got to watch him in ball-snag mode for a few minutes. He was pissed that the section was dead and went hobbling away. (If you follow his blog you know he's been on crutches for a while.) I still didn't approach him yet as I knew he was obviously busy, as was I. I figured I'd catch him by the dugout after BP.

My mom was at this game too--I had given her my 10-game plan seats since I bought a better seat for myself. So I got to visit with her at the Red Sox dugout, where she was super-excited--she'd just gotten Tito's autograph on an old-logo seat cushion.

And here's Terry himself.

I also took shots of Carl Crawford's kid playing catch with...

David Ortiz's kid.

Then I headed to the visitors' dugout, and sure enough, there was Zack Hample. He was getting a pic of him with an "11" sign, since he's going to all 30 parks this season, and Fenway was his 11th.

So I went right down there and said hi, only to have him say "Jeremy....no, Jere, Jere80." I comment on his blog as "Jere80." I had no idea how he knew my face. But he did. I later surmised it must have been because I sent a picture in to him when he asked his readers for shots of them with the baseballs they've snagged. Anyway, even if that's the case, still an impressive move by him knowing who I was. Above, he signs my copy of his book, The Baseball.

Another shot of Zack signing--he gave me a great inscription, which included "5103" in his signature--that was the up-to-the-moment total of how many balls he's snagged at major league parks. Also, I bought the book under the Citgo sign, at the B&N, aka BU Bookstore.

Of course, we took pics of us with my camera and his (or, in his case, the guy with him who was getting photos). It was great to meet Zack and just hang out and talk for a while. Again, his blog is Snagging Baseballs and is always entertaining. He snags for charity, too--all the info about that and his book(s) are at his blog. As I write this, he doesn't have his Fenway pics/stories up yet, but I'm sure they'll be up soon. [Update: Here's his post about this game.] He's also going to tonight's game. Oh, and he got three balls in BP last night--we'll find out soon if he got any during the game.

Now I'm out briefly at my mom's seats, where she reminded me that, Duh, it's Andrew Miller's debut with the Red Sox. I had been excited for that, but once the Zack meeting happened, I kind of forgot all about it. But I did get this shot of him in the pen about to make his first Sox start.

And now I'm at my "better" seat. Section 34 (which is underneath tarp during day games), last seat over next to the camera well, 7th row.

It was great. The back wall behind me, nobody but the two cameramen to the right of me, a quiet father/teen son in front of me, and an empty seat on my left, followed by teen boys who just talked about stats all night. And, like I said, short-sleeve weather. The only things that could make it better would be a huge blowout win, and a home run ball right to me. One outta two ain't bad.

Okay, one other minor negative is that the camera well roof blocks a little of the field, and from that angle, you don't see the Green Monster. But there are much worse obstructions in seats that cost much more than $28 at Fenway. I was completely happy with this view.

Looking to my left.

And up at the flag and back wall. (You can barely see the bank of lights from the tower too.)

Miller's first Red Sox warm-up toss.

You can see Jeremy Kapstein in this dude's cam.

Andrew Miller's first pitch in a Red Sox uniform. He did a fine job, though he lost the 3-0 lead on one swing of the bat by Orlando Hudson. Soon after that, though, we had a 10-run inning to put it out of hand.

You know those vents with slats you see on the back wall of the bleachers? This is looking down through the slats right behind me. You can see people walking on Lansdowne Street below.

And this is leaning back and holding the camera straight up over my head. (See the slats I was talking about?)

Maybin had a cheat sheet so he'd know where to play the hitters. Ellsbury had one too.

The Padres outfield.

FW Webb is the official (whatever the hell they are) of the Boston Red Sox....yet they don't know the logo changed in 2008, and neither do the people at Fenway who are in charge of these electronic signs. You might think I'm silly for spotting this elsewhere, but inside Fenway Park? Terrible job. (The Boston Herald, I noticed, is still unaware of the logo change.)

Dave Roberts coaching first. At this point, they're showing "the Steal" on the scoreboard, and he's reacting to it with glee.

Then people are clapping for him. But, many people in the park are surely unaware he even works for the Padres. But everyone is made aware of that when the highlight ends and the scoreboard cuts to a live shot of him....

And that's when everyone stood and cheered. And as you can see, Tito is happier than anyone.

Just to my right and down.

The camera well and my view looking along the Wall.

It's hard to get shots of Neshek's crazy motion without a pro camera....

After the ten-run inning, it was time for me to move to the good seats.

Again, Neshek--the only non-blurries are the ones where he's standing still.

Marco Scutaro.

Tek with Scutaro up behind him.

Anthony Rizzo, who was in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.

Pedroia, Ellsbury.

Adrian and Dave "Hey, did you hear the Yanks were up on us three games to zero--three to zero!--and we fucking came back and beat them and went on to win the World Series? Me too!" Roberts.

And an anti-climactic shot of Hottovy to close it out. Sox win, a lot to a little.

I was at that June 2004 Padres game too. I was in Boston for a conference, and sat in the 1st base grandstand with a friend. Once it got into a rain delay, he had to get home to his family, so I just wandered the park by myself. It was a couple of weeks before my 40th birthday, and I remember being in a down mood thinking about how I was about to officially become old. I think I left in the 8th once play had restarted and the game got out of hand...had an early-morning meeting. I walked back to my hotel in the mist while talking to my wife (then gf) on my cell.
I had that same seat for this classic game (Papi's 1st HR of '09 / Ellsbury's putout record, both of which took place in CF). I didn't publish them in that post, but I took the same looking-straight-up-the-wall and picture-from-the-camera-guy's-camera shots. It's a cool seat!
Dude! Awesome write-up of the game. I'm honored to have been such a big (or at least memorable?) part of your day. Thanks for the kind words. It was great to meet you.

You too, Zack.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States