Category: 2015 Games

Boston Strong on Jackie Robinson’s Day: April 15, 2015: Washington Nationals vs Red Sox @ Fenway Park

IMG_2343Having no classes on Wednesdays came in handy on a day game during the week. I was planning on going to this game for a while. When I was buying my tickets, I originally thought it was a night game and when I found out that it was a day game I was concerned that it would interfere with my classes at school. So, I didn’t buy the ticket and bought a ticket for the night game the day before. I wanted to go to a Nationals game to see if I could get Bryce Harper’s autograph. When I picked my classes and got everything figured out with school, I didn’t have class on Wednesday. The first thing I did was buy a ticket to this game. Not only was the game vs. the Nationals but it was also a special day throughout MLB. It was Jackie Robinson’s day. Jackie Robinson Day has been in the MLB since 2004, honoring the day Robinson made his major league debut in 1947. On April 15th every year, each player, coach, manager, and umpires wear the #42 honoring Robinson’s accomplishments. Also, this game was important to the city of Boston. It was also the two-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The game was very special and it was one of those games you wouldn’t want to miss. For the game I wore my Boston Strong shirt. After going to the game the night before, I stayed home and left my house around 9:00 am to drive into Boston. I hit some traffic going in and got to the ballpark around 10:00 am. I walked over to Gate C and there were tons of people walking in so I got in line. I didn’t know at the time but I wasn’t supposed to go into the ballpark. When I got into the ballpark I walked up to outfield seats to see if there was batting practice. On a day game, there isn’t batting practice but I wanted to check just in case. There was no batting practice but there were tons of people in the grandstands. Apparently, the kids were on a field trip from school. Dave Mellor, the head groundskeeper, was talking to the kids about the field and answers any questions they had. The kids were learning about the weather and were learning about how the field works.

IMG_2344As Mellor was talking to the kids some Red Sox players were coming out to warm up. Clay Buchholz and Porcello were warming up in the outfield with Pitching Coach Juan Nieves. After Buchholz and Porcello were done playing catch, they walked over to the Red Sox bullpen. I went over to the bullpen to go watch them. Buchholz went up first.

He pitched as Nieves watched. Buchholz threw a pitch in the dirt and gave it to Nieves. He then looked at it and then looked at me and showed me the ball to get my attention. He then tossed me the baseball. Porcello had come over near me during Buchholz’s session.

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I congratulated him on his new contract signing. He was very nice and thanked me. I also asked him if after he would sign. He said he would after he threw. After Buchholz was done with his bullpen session, Porcello started his session.

During Porcello’s bullpen session he didn’t like 3 of the baseballs. Nieves threw me two not even 5 seconds apart from each other. Then he also threw me one later on in the bullpen session.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 11.41.48 PM When he was done he went into the bullpen and sat down with Buchholz and Nieves. The gates for Red Sox nation opened around 11:05AM after I was already in the ballpark for an hour. Mike Davison had entered the ballpark and went over to the bullpen where I was. He took out his ball retriever and grabbed two baseballs in the bullpen. As Buchholz and Porcello got up to leave the dugout Porcello came over and signed.

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He signed for a lot of people who were over near the dugout. After they left the rest of the Red Sox pitchers were tossing over near Pesky’s Pole. When the security guards allowed the fans to get to the rest of the ballpark, I went straight to Pesky’s Pole. I saw Joe Kelly and Justin Masterson playing catch. When I got near them they were just finishing up. I called out to Kelly. He then tossed me the ball he had for my 5th of the day. I asked if he was going to sign autographs today. He said he could sign before he worked out and walked over to me. As he was signing I asked him since he was a fan of selfies if we could take one. He said we could and we took one.

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After the selfie, I started walking to the Nationals dugout. I saw Brock Holt taking grounders near third and I stopped walking towards the Nationals dugout and turned around and headed back to the Sox’s dugout. I waited at the dugout as Holt came in. He started heading right next to the dugout with a bunch of kids around. I went over and got in line. Holt then signed a baseball I gave him. After I left the area, Holt continued signing autographs.

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I headed to my normal spot near the dugout and waited around an hour before anyone came out. Around 12:50PM, the Boston Marathon survivors walked past the National’s dugout. Carlos Arredondo, the man in the Cowboy Hat who was seen helping Jeff Bauman off the ground into a wheel chair and then to the ambulance during the Marathon Bombings, was walking toward us to go near home plate. Carlos and his wife both saw my shirt and said “nice shirt.”

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15 minutes later Washington National’s players were coming out and warming up. Bryce Harper of the Nationals came over and signed. For me this was great because the day before I was so close to getting his autograph. My thought process was I couldn’t get turned down again. As soon as he grabbed my pen, I was so relieved. He signed the ball I gave him and he continued down the line.

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Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs during the bombing, and Patrick Downes, who lost his left leg during the bombing, threw the first pitches. Then the survivors and first responders yelled “Play Ball.” Ryan Zimmerman was tossing with Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper was throwing with Danny Espinosa. After they were done Ryan Zimmerman tossed me up a ball for my 6th of the day.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 1.12.39 PMCarlos Arredondo and his wife carried a Boston Strong Flag off the field and Washington National’s players talked to Jeff Bauman as he walked by.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 1.18.05 PM The starters of the Game were Gio Gonzalez for Washington and Wade Miley for Boston. Miley struggled in the first inning when a walk and two hits led to two runs. In the bottom of the 2nd inning the Sox responded when they scored 2 runs on 2 hits and an error by the National’s third baseman Yunel Escobar. In the top of the 3rd, Miley’s struggles continued as Ian Desmond homered to left giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead. The Nationals were not done as the next 3 batters got on with 2 walks and 1 hit. With the based loaded Ramos doubled that cleared the bases. After the hit, Miley’s day was done and Varvaro came in to pitch with the score 6-2. With two outs in the inning 3rd inning still, Uggla doubled, which scored Ramos and the run was charged to Miley, giving him 7 earned runs on the day. Michael Taylor also doubled in the inning that led Uggla to score making the score 8-2, National’s leading. During the Top of the 4th inning, around 2:47-2:48, the announcer said, “Ladies and Gentleman, our game will now pause for a moment, and we ask you to please rise. All of us know of the events that took place in our town 2 years ago on this date at this time. All of us know of friends whose lives were altered. All of us know of families who hearts were shattered. Our mayor the honorable Martian J. Walsh has asked us to stand together, feel together, and remember together those whom we lost on April 15, 2013 at 2:49pm. As we do we remember Krystle Campbell of Medford, Massachusetts, Lu Lingzi, a Boston University Graduate student from China, and 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester. We of course also remember officer Sean Collier, killed 3 days later. Let us remember them now.”

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A 50 second moment of silence occurred leaving Fenway silent. The announcer then continued, “Ladies and Gentleman we are One Boston. Ladies and Gentleman we are Boston Strong. Ladies and Gentleman this is our city. Lets play ball.” It was a great moment to be apart of. It was a great moment to see Fenway so quite for a change and it was amazing to witness. In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Sox finally got back in the game when Hanley Ramirez hit a home run over the Green Monster that also scored Pedroia. After the inning the score was 8-4 with the Nationals still in the lead. The Sox were not done offensively because in the bottom of the 6th inning, Brock Holt hit a ground rule double that scored Mike Napoli from second. Then in the top of the 7th inning the Nationals responded when Moore hit a two run shot that scored Ramos. The game would end with the same score with the Nationals beating the Red Sox 10-5 giving Gio Gonzalez the win and Wade Miley the loss.

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First Game of the 2015 Season: April 14, 2015 Washington Nationals vs Boston Red Sox @ Fenway Park

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Red Sox Nation stamp with two bats

The best feeling in the world is leaving your class to go to the Sox game. I have been waiting for 2 weeks after Opening Day to go to my first game of the 2015 season. Since the last time I went in September, the roster has changed. Our pitching rotation was completely different with two Red Sox starters returning from last years team. We signed the lefty Wade Miley and we welcomed Justin Masterson back to Boston. The Sox had an outfield overload and decided to trade Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers in exchange for Rick Porcello. The lineup looked different as well. We signed Pablo Sandoval to play third base and welcomed Hanley Ramirez back to Boston to play left field. The signings will hopefully allow our lineup to have more power offensively. This season is going to be fun to watch and hopefully is less stressful then last season. Going into Boston for a 6:10pm was slightly weird. I left my school around 1:00pm and stopped by my house for my bag packed with my game day essentials. I always bring pens, 4 baseballs, Red Sox hat, visiting hat, and a Red Sox jersey. I also brought a cheat sheet of the visiting team that has everyone on the team’s picture, position, and which way they threw. Also on this sheet, are my autograph targets of the day. Since the Sox where facing the Nationals, I had a great amount of targets circled. I wanted to make sure I left my house at 2:00pm. I got to Fenway around 2:30pm, and headed to my favorite line at Fenway. One person was there before me. His name was Mike Davison. Some people might recognize that name. Mike helped out with Zack Hample’s helicopter stunt. We talked about all types of different things and it was great to talk to him in line. He’s a great guy! When Red Sox nation came around to stamp our hands, we didn’t have to show our Red Sox Nation cards. I guess I go enough now for them to recognize me. I was questioning if they were going to bring back the wristbands or keep it going with the stamps. They are using stamps again this year. I got a new stamp with two bats crossed. Waiting in line got interesting when the fast food workers on strike walked down Lansdowne Street. At first we didn’t know what was happening. They walked all the way down the street with signs that said “BU students stand with the fight for $15” I am not familiar with the strikes but it was entertaining to walk a bunch of people striking for the first time.

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Strikers walking down Lansdowne Street

One thing I did notice as I was looking into the ballpark was there are new security measures for this year. Instead of having a security guard with hand-held medal detectors, they have walk-through magnetometers.

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Fenway’s new walk-through magnetometers

Personally, I like the walk-through magnetometers because you can keep on walking instead of waiting for someone to come around with the hand-held medal detectors. The one thing that stinks is you have to take your phone and cameras out of the pockets and put them in a bin. You walk through the walk-through magnetometers and then they give your phone and cameras back. Going into the ballpark is always the best feeling in the world. I walked up the outfield bleachers entrance and the first thing I noticed was the cameras were gone. From the picture where Mike (in the Pedroia jersey) is standing you can see the different color in the walkway. My first reaction was there is a lot more room now. In the past years, batting practice homerun balls would easily bounce off the camera area and go back into the field. The cameras were moved upwards on a catwalk. Seats were also added to the area and it has a nice view that would be great to watch a game from. Taking away the cameras is going to give any one an advantage to catch a ball from that area now.

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Straight away centerfield from last year (Left) and this year (Right)

I have set many goals for myself for this year:

  1. Catch a ball from each starting pitcher
  2. Catch a batting practice homerun ball on the GoPro
  3. Catch 10 or more baseballs during a game
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1st baseball of the day

These are just a few but are my main goals for the year. With the cameras gone, I moved closer to the Green Monster. With-in five minutes of being in the ballpark, my first ball of the year was caught. Wade Miley was shagging baseballs around left/centerfield. Because the cameras were not there I was able to move closer to him. He was near the American League scoreboard. Mike may have gotten his attention but he threw the ball to me. There it was number one of the year.The ball was a Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball. Robert D. Manfred is the new Commissioner of baseball. Commissioner Allan “Bud” H. Selig had retired after being commissioner since 1992. Since I have been alive Bud Selig has been the commissioner. Each baseball has had a Bud Selig signature on each baseball under the Official Major League Baseball stamp. My thought process during the day was wondering if teams would still have Selig balls still around. After 20 minutes of hoping for a homerun ball to come my way, a ball was hit into centerfield. Junichi Tazawa caught the ball and then turned around and tossed me the ball for my second of the day. Just like the ball before, it was a Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball.

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2nd ball of the day with red check mark

This was also stamped with a red box with a check mark right on the sweet spot. I wondered if this ball was from other team because the Red Sox normally do not mark their practice balls. The National’s pitchers were warming up but in the weirdest way. They had a Nerf football and were running routes. I was watching them for a while. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw a ball coming our way. I ran over and it was above my head, I jumped but missed it. Thankfully, the ball bounced off a seat and right into my glove for my third of the day. I then went right over to a little girl and gave her the ball. Her and her mom were very thankful that I gave them the ball. The ball was another Robert D. Manfred Jr. ball. The little girl and her mom were thanking me for the rest of batting practice.

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3rd baseball of the day with the little girl I gave it to

I had three baseballs through Red Sox batting practice and it was time to take off the Red Sox hat and put on a National’s hat on. I had to take the GoPro off and have it in my hand, which brought some weird angles. I was moving back and forth throughout the outfield sections. Homeruns were coming more often but were scattering all around. As I was moving around a ball was tossed up and missed. It landed if front of me and I picked it up. This ball was an Allan H. Selig baseball. The nationals must have been using a lot of old baseballs. I gave the ball to a little girl whose birthday was today. Happy Birthday to her!

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4th baseball with the little girl who I gave the ball to for her birthday

I then kept an eye out for more home runs. A National’s player hit a shot into the area would the cameras would be. It landed in the seats and I beat out Mike for the ball. Sorry Mike! Mike and I were going back and forth with balls all practice and it was nice to have some competition. I believe he ended up with 7 during batting practice. The batting practice homerun would be my 5th of the day and also at 249 lifetime. I was one away from 250! I didn’t realize this for a while. It randomly occurred to me when I was thinking of the fact that I had 5 on the day. I honestly didn’t think about 250 going into the game. Michael Taylor was in centerfield shagging baseballs. He caught one baseball and then ran for another one. He looked at me and threw one of the baseballs. BALL 250 lifetime and also my 6th of the day! I could knock off another milestone of 250. Next one is 300!   Since Taylor had two baseballs in his hand, Mike tried to get the other one. Taylor threw it to him but the throw was low.

Baseballs 249 and 250

Baseballs 249 and 250

A little later I positioned myself right at the end of the wall next to the monster. Fans were heckling Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, and some other National’s players. They were funny but also may have crossed some lines. They were saying how Gio was on their fantasy team and this was also how they were trying to get a ball from him. They then started saying that their friend traded him away. When Max threw a ball back in to the bucket area, they were yelling “Hey! Wrong way.” They then started asking at Gio if he had a car seat or if he could get into the rides at the carnival. They finally got the attention of the players. Gio and Scherzer then started laughing at them. Then they told Scherzer to grow a Mohawk (like the kid had) and then Scherzer came back and say “Why? I don’t want to look like you.” They also went as far as asking Scherzer which eye he was looking at them with, the blue or the brown one. It went over the line but at least the players were laughing about it. Scherzer ended up tossing me a ball in-between the other fans heckling for my 7th of the day, which was also an Allan H. Selig ball. The nationals must have had only Bud Selig balls because that is the only baseballs I got from them. They where probably trying to get rid of them all.

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GoPro shot of the Max Scherzer ball

After the Scherzer ball I decided to leave the outfield and head towards the dugout. As I was heading toward the dugout I went passed the Good Sport table. At the table you pledge not to drink and be responsible at the ballpark. When you sign up you get a free soda and enter to win a Red Sox pullover. After, I headed to the dugout. When I got there, batting practice was just ending. Tanner Roark was signing autographs. He went down the whole dugout and signed for everyone.

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Tanner Roark signing the baseball

I got his autograph and moved to my autograph spot in between where the ball girl stands and the security guard are. When players started coming out a few of them came over and signed. Ian Desmond came over and signed autographs. I already had him so I was hoping others would come over as well. National’s outfielder Clint Robinson came around and signed as well. He signed one of the baseballs I had.

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Clint Robinson signing the baseball

Also, Bryce Harper came over and was signing autographs. I was very close to getting his autograph as he skipped over me. I then saw Scherzer signing autographs as well. I walked over to him with the ball he gave me and asked if he could sign it for me. He did and signed it right on the sweet spot.

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Max Scherzer signing the baseball

After he autographed the ball, it was time for the National Anthem. The starters of the Game were Stephen Strasburg for Washington and Justin Masterson for Boston. In the top of the second inning, Michael Taylor singled off of Masterson, which allowed Danny Espinosa to score. In the bottom of the inning, the Sox responded when Mookie Betts doubled off Strasburg allowing Mike Napoli and Brock Holt to score. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Sox responded by scoring twice making the score 4-1. In the bottom of the 4th, Pedroia hit a homerun into the Monstahhh. In the top of the 5th the Nationals responded by scoring 6 runs with 4 hits in the inning. After 5 innings, the score was 7-5 with the Nationals in the lead. In between the top and the bottom of 6th inning, first base coach, Tony Tarasco, collected the warm up ball that was thrown in from Ryan Zimmerman. He then tossed me the ball for my 8th of the day.

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Baseball number 8 of the night

In the bottom of the 7th inning, 3 errors helped out the Sox as they scored 3 in the inning without any hits. After the inning was over, the score was 8-7 with the Red Sox in the lead. In the bottom of the 9th, the first replay of the year at Fenway happened. Ryan Zimmerman hit a long foul ball near the left field foul pole. National’s manager went out and wanted the umpires in New York to look at the hit again.

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Umpires meeting with the Replay staff

The play was confirmed as a foul ball and Zimmerman ended up lining out to left during his at-bat. The game ended with the Sox winning after Uehara came in for the save. After the game, when the pitchers and coaches from the bullpens came back to the dugout. The Bullpen coach, Matthew LeCroy came around and tossed a couple baseballs to fans. He threw one right to me for my 9th of the day tying my personal best.

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Matthew LeCroy throwing me my 9th baseball of the day

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