Spring Training 2019: Game 2 – Nationals vs. Twins – 3/14/19

I arrived at the stadium at 10 am for my final game of the spring. I was surprised to see that the batting cage was put away on the practice field and there were no players in sight. On Monday, the whole team was already taking batting practice by this time but it was eiarly quiet today just three hours before game time. In fact, the first Twins player I would see today was starting pitcher Martin Perez just 20 minutes before game time when he came out to get loose. With an hour to kill before the gates opened, I walked the short 250 yards over to the minor league complex and watched some unknown guys practice before a scrimmage. Here they are doing a simple situational drill you might see in high school to work on baserunning and cut off throws, where the hitters just stand in the box and pretend to swing when the coach hits pop flies:

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When I when returned the stadium at 10:45, I was surprised to see a couple of the Nationals’ young stars, Juan Soto, and Michael Taylor, hitting in the Twins’ cages. Here is the pic of Soto, the 20 year old NL Rookie of the Year runner up:

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Neither were able to sign because they had to rush out to join the rest of team for batting practice on the field. This was my view when I rushed in at 11:

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It was frustrating that the Nats were already hitting because it meant that I would only witness a couple groups of BP today after seeing both teams hit in their entirety my previous game. What was even more frustrating was that I had the whole berm to myself for the first five minutes and there wasn’t any action. By the time the first homerun was hit, it was already 11:20 and the berm still was virtually empty. It was a Juan Soto opposite field shot about 30 feet to my right that tailed away from my glove on a lunging attempt. However, I was able to pick it off the ground for my first ball of the day. It was just a normal Manfred ball. A few minutes later, I caught my second ball of the day, this one on the fly along the rail. Believe it or not, that was pretty much it for action today. It was definitely a slow batting practice with only a total of four homers to the berm, though a handful more were crushed over the berm and out of the stadium. I ended up with just those two which matched my total from visitor’s BP the game before and brought my final spring total to nine baseballs.

The Twins lost 10-4 in a pretty entertaining game. I spent a couple of innings out on the fairly empty berm but I didn’t catch any of the five homers from the game.

Thanks for reading. It was a somewhat disappointing Spring Training for me this year but it was still fun to be ballhawking and watching baseball again in mid March. As this was my final post of the spring, you can now read up on the whole trip by checking out my other three recaps:

My only Twins games until mid May will be Opening Weekend in just ten days, though I’m not sure if there will be enough action from those games to blog about yet. Either way, be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post next. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins!

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Spring Training 2019: Day 3 – Practice

After a disappointing day yesterday, I was hoping to get some more autographs today in my final practice of the spring. I arrived at 9:30 to a little bit more activity as players began to take the field earlier today. I knew that this practice might be different because most of the team was heading across town for a game at Fenway South. Most of the starters did normal game prep inside the stadium and never had to interact with any fans along the fence. The few who did couldn’t sign because they were in a rush to change and hop on the bus immediately following practice around 11. However, I did get a good look at fan favorite Willians Astudillo who caught a Trevor May bullpen before switching gloves and joining the infielders for grounders. Here he his warming up another bullpen catcher:

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He was one of the few staying back from the trip and stopped to sign after practice:

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With most of the action happening inside the stadium, I watched the infielders, along with Nelson Cruz, do work on the half field. Here is Cruz not surprisingly missing a grounder:

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C.J. Cron quickly signed for myself and a couple others on his way to hit on the big field:

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With nothing else to do, I watched the travel team finish up BP from the one spot in the concourse fans were allowed to stand on non-game days:

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While it pained me to not be able to head to the outfield, it was kind of refreshing to watch batting practice from a different point of view.

That was it for today. It had been a frustrating couple of days with short, unconventional practices and little autograph success. I did attend one more game the following day, so be on the lookout for a recap post shortly. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins!

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Spring Training 2019: Day 2 – Practice

I arrived at the stadium bright and early at 8:30 am for my first day of practice. It was an away game day so a bunch of the starters would hang back to practice. However, the day got off to a slow start. The first player I saw was Adrianza in the batting cages at about 9:15 and the team didn’t even come out until 10. This was later than in previous years and could be due to the coaching changes. I watched Jake Odorizzi throw a bullpen session while the pitchers played long toss inside the stadium, the infielders took grounders on the half field, and the outfielders stretched and hit on the practice field:

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Odorizzi signed a card for me after he was done. The main autograph rush at the end of practice happened sooner than expected and all the players left at once, making it hard to get a bunch of different guys. Instagram graphers Nick and Cayden helped stop a couple players as they exited the field, which was good since I got denied by Rosario and Buxton. I ended up getting both Berrios and Schoop on cards. Here is my haul from today:

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Getting my favorite pitcher to perfectly sign a card like that makes up for how poorly the Schoop turned out. After practice, which only lasted about 45 minutes, I watched Nelson Cruz take cuts in the indoor cages while Oliva and Carew chatted with fans. Rod surprisingly even signed a couple of autographs, including a special one for a younger toddler, but I wasn’t able to get him.

That was it for today. I was a little disappointed in the number of autographs I got today but I still had another practice to attend the next day. There will be two more posts from Spring Training in the coming days, so be sure follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins!

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Spring Training 2019: Game 1 – Tigers vs. Twins – 3/11/19

After the harsh winter, I was looking forward to a few days down in Fort Myers to ballhawk, graph, and check out the new look Twins. This was going to be my 5th straight Spring Training that I’ve blogged about, so I apologize if I’m not as detailed in my recaps this time around. I arrived at CenturyLink Sports Complex at 9:45 for my first game of the spring. The Twins began to trickle out of the locker room and started BP on the main practice field at 10. I headed down the left field line so I could snag any balls that were sliced around the cage and over the fence:

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This spot has been good for lots of baseballs over the years, but today was the best ballhawking day yet. The Twins were hitting off of a pitching machine, which might’ve affected their timing more than if a coach was laying them in there. I quickly got on the board for the spring with a slicer that I caught on the fly:

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I’m not sure I’ve ever actually snagged a liner like that in this spot before so it felt great. It was surprisingly easy to pick up the ball off the bat looking through the chain linked fence. All of the balls that I would get from the Twins were 2019 Florida commemoratives. I have now gotten a Florida ball in each of the four years they have been in use. A minute later, I chased after a ball that went over my head and deflected off a tree. I was then joined by a few kids who I helped get a tossup and gave my next ball to. This one rolled right to my feet and I fielded it cleanly like the pitchers do in the outfield. I then got talking with a couple of Blue Jays fans, a father and son from Toronto. I beat them out on another slicer and gave it to the Dad who was very grateful. After snagging the first four balls that were hit over the fence, I was beat out on the next two. The son caught one of them on the fly and would also have a couple more nice catches inside the stadium. I ended Twins BP with five balls after Max Kepler got my attention and hit me up from long range. I’ll always accept a tossup if I don’t have to open my mouth to get a player’s attention. When the Twins wrapped up their full batting practice on the practice field, there was still about 15 minutes left until the gates opened at 11.

I rushed out to the berm to find that the Tigers had not started hitting yet. That meant that I would get to see both teams hit in their entirety, a rarity at any ballpark. My main competition was the same father and son from outside and MyGameBalls user TrevDawg who would go onto snag six balls from the Tigers alone. I caught the first two balls to the berm on the fly, both from the first hitter of BP. Here is the first one:

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The first was pretty routine but I had to reach far over the fence to reel in the second one. Both balls were just normal sharpie marked baseballs like the Tigers always use. Those two catches felt great and I didn’t feel rusty at all. The berm was slowly filling up so I pretty much moved to find open space and stuck to that area for the rest of BP:

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There was plenty of action and lots of baseballs to go around. About a dozen homers reached the berm and it was to fun to see a bunch of other kids catch them on the fly. There were a couple of times I shied away from contact either with another glove or the back wall. I was content with my two from inside the stadium and didn’t want to bully my way to extra baseballs so I’m not kicking myself over missing a couple more potential catches. I finished with seven balls, two from the very beginning of Tigers BP and five from outside.

That was it for the game. The Tigers beat the Twins 3-0. I ended up leaving early when it was still scoreless in the 5th because it was hot and very crowded. There was no shade to be found with 9,000 others also seeking shelter from the 86 degree heat!

Thanks for reading. This was the first of four posts from Spring Training coming this week, so be on the lookout for those and remember to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins!

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2019 Update

Each of the last couple years, I felt the need to publish a season update post sharing big news entering the season. While I don’t have any major news this time, I do have a clearer idea of what my season is going to look like so I thought I’d briefly share it as my last offseason post. I will once again be going to Spring Training and I’m looking forward to blogging about my experience for the 5th straight year. I will be in Fort Myers for four full days from March 11-14 where I plan to hit up two games and two practices, so expect the annual recaps of my ballhawking and graphing. In the meantime, you can click here to scroll down through a list of my previous Spring Training posts if you want to read up on them.

As for the regular season, I’ll unfortunately be breaking my three year home opener streak. However, I will be attending the other two games of opening weekend (weather dependent) to get my first taste of March baseball. I plan on going to between 12 and 18 games at Target Field, mainly from mid May to mid August, and positioning myself in the outfield for most of them. My season highlights will be Joe Mauer’s number retirement and games against the Red Sox, Yankees, Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Brewers. The other games will be a mix of mainly Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday night games with hopefully good weather, good company, and small crowds. And of course, if the Twins host a playoff game, I will definitely be there for that too. The only road trip I’m planning on this year is to Kansas City, so I don’t think I’ll be crossing off multiple new stadiums like I have each of the last two years.

Thanks for reading. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post next, which should be my Spring Training recaps in just a few weeks. Thanks again and Go Twins! This is the best I’ve ever felt about the team heading into a season!

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Top 20 Games Attended (2018 Update)

I have a great time at every game I go to, however, some games are more special or memorable than others. Every time you go to the ballpark, you never know what you might see or what might happen. I was able to add three games from this year to my annual Top 20 Games Attended list while also shifting around the order of prior games. In order to make this selective list, a game must stand out for a certain reason, usually because it was either eventful or historical.

20. Turn Back the Clock Night – 6/5/14

The Twins and the Brewers spiced up the border battle by throwing it back. Oswaldo Arcia, with his baby blue threads, launched a grand slam in the loss to Milwaukee.

19. Bartolo Colon Throws Complete Game – 8/4/17

My first time watching Big Sexy pitch was a historic one. The 44 year old became the oldest American League pitcher to win a complete game since 1992. The crowd cheered when Bartolo trotted out of the dugout in the top of the ninth to the tune of “I’m Sexy and I know It.”

18. Putting Up Big Numbers During Four Consecutive Game Stretch – 6/7/166/8/166/9/16, and 6/10/16

I enjoyed a perfect week of baseball, attending four games in a row being treated to perfect weather, marquee matchups, and eventful batting practices each night. I was present for the entire series against my second favorite team, the Miami Marlins, as well as the series opener against another favorite Boston Red Sox. I got 11 batting practice homeruns in those four games, including balls hit by Ichiro and David Ortiz (pictured below), which included five on the fly and four in one game. In addition to being a part of Big Papi’s retirement tour celebration, I also got to see fan favorite Jose Fernandez for the first and only time before he tragically passed away two months later. This is still the best four game ballhawking stretch of my career and it happened in four consecutive days.

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17. Behind the Scenes With Zack Hample – 8/23/16

The whole Target Field family was there to welcome Zack Hample as he filmed this video for his YouTube channel (look for my name in the description)! It was great to hang with the greatest ballhawk of all time and to blog about my experience, which became my most popular post!

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16. Attending Ballhawk Fest – 8/25/18

While the out of town support, the ballhawking, and the game itself were lackluster, this game made the list for the overall day itself. The whole Target Field crew showed up for softball and pizza as part of the annual event, planned months in advance, that Minnesota was hosting for the first time.

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15. Twins Lose Wild Game in Extras – 4/9/14

My first game of 2014 was a wild one, making skipping school that day even more worth it. It was my first game as a season ticket holder and the beginning of a 94 game stretch at Target Field over the next five seasons. On the balmy 59 degree day after Opening Day, I witnessed one of the craziest games I had ever seen. It featured a 9th inning Twins’ comeback thanks to back to back successful replay reviews (on their second day of existence) to force extra innings which was followed by a benches clearing brawl.

14. Santana’s Complete Game Shutout – 7/6/16

Ervin Santana pitched the best game I have ever witnessed, posting a remarkable 91 game score. He pitched a complete game shutout with nine strikeouts, 2 hits, and no walks, needing exactly 100 pitches to face 28 batters and get all 27 outs.

13. Span’s Three Triples Ties an MLB Record – 6/29/10

My first game at Target Field was highlighted with some MLB history. Denard Span tied the MLB record for most three-baggers in a game with three of “the most exciting play in baseball.” It might be the rarest thing I’ll ever see at a baseball game unless I’m lucky enough to see a perfect game or the cycle.

12. Alexi Casilla Walk-Off Single – 6/9/11

In only my fourth game ever at Target Field, my dad and I splurged to get lower level tickets down the 3rd baseline, where I went for foul balls and got Josh Hamiliton’s autograph (my first ever autograph at a game). I also got to see a Nelson Cruz triple deck homerun and a walkoff single by Alexi Casilla. These kind of moments mean a lot more when you go to fewer games.

11. Twins/Indians Doubleheader – 6/17/17

I was joined by Dave for my second doubleheader of the season. In addition to the two games, there was also a 1.5 hour long rain delay which made for a long but fun 11 hour baseball day. I spent all 18 innings chasing homers in the deserted plaza, actually coming close to a few of them.

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10. Seven Run 9th Inning Comeback Capped Off By Dozier’s Walk-Off Homer – 7/10/15

I got to experience the best comeback of all time in a rare game attended with my dad. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins rallied back to score seven runs to beat the Tigers 8-6 on Brian Dozier’s second walk-off homer of the week during his All Star Game push. Dick Bremer said it best with this great call: “A drive to left field… Are you kidding me? The most electric moment at Target Field in years!” It was definitely the loudest stadium moment I’ve ever witnessed and I rode the post game high for days.

9. Offensive Outburst Highlighted by Rosario’s Three Homer Game – 6/13/17

The Twins recorded 20 runs on a franchise record 28 hits in domination of the Seattle Mariners, snagging a couple of commemorative baseballs in the process. I got to watch my favorite player Eddie Rosario hit three homeruns and four Twins each collect four or more hits apiece.

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8. Torii Hunter’s Twins Hall of Fame Induction – 7/16/16

I got to see my favorite player growing up inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame after he gave a memorable speech in front of 30,000 fans. I also got treated to a four hour long, extra inning, walkoff victory after a two hour long rain delay. By 12:30 am, I almost had the whole place to myself and came very close to snagging a foul ball. Ballhawking in an empty stadium after midnight is such a cool experience!

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7. First Game at Fenway Park – 8/17/15

I had a great time at historic Fenway Park and caught a ball on the fly during BP for my first ball at a different stadium.IMG_4548

6. Road Trip to Miller Park – 8/9/17

This was my first true baseball road trip and it was with my friends to see the Twins on the road as part of a four game sweep of the Brewers. What more you could you wish for?

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5. Weekend Trip to Kansas City – 9/15/18 and 9/16/18

This was a highly anticipated, carefully planned weekend speed trip with Dave to see the Twins play twice on the road at Kauffman Stadium. In addition to everything going as planned, we were treated by nice locals, warm temperatures, and an almost empty party deck to room around on Sunday, where we each got close to a homerun!

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4. Catching My First Game Homerun – 8/7/17

Somehow, I ended up with my first game homerun as my 150th lifetime ball in my final game at Target Field of the season and got to celebrate it with all of my Target Field friends. I also watched my favorite player, Eddie Rosario, double in the tying run and come around to score the go ahead run on a balk. What a great sendoff to college!IMG_9303

3. Attending the 2014 MLB All Star Game – 7/15/14

Target Field was in the national spotlight during Derek Jeter’s final All Star Game and I had a blast attending all of the festivities!

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2. Crazy Postseason Game at Miller Park – 10/4/18

Everything fell into place to allow me to make the day trip to Milwaukee for my first postseason game, and the game and atmosphere made the trip worth every penny. The Rockies and Brewers provided a memorable NLDS Game 1, ultimately ending in an extra innings walkoff after a blown save in the 9th.

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1. Watching Team USA Walk-Off Against Colombia in the World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park – 3/10/17

I know it wasn’t an official Major League Baseball game, but this is still my favorite baseball game I’ve ever attended. Quintana and Archer dueled it out before Colombia took the lead on back to back to back doubles. The United States tied the game on a Nolan Arenado dropped third strike before Adam Jones walked it off in the 10th inning. It was the first win for the eventual WBC champion USA team, full of MLB All Stars. Coincidentally, my top two games attended both ended with Christian Yelich scoring the winning run on a 10th inning walkoff singe. They also both featured great defensive plays, fine starting pitching, and a late inning comeback, making it tough to choose a favorite. However, this game felt like both a postseason game and a World Cup soccer match with the players playing for much more than just a trophy. It was such a new and exciting experience at one of my favorite stadiums and it will be certainly hard to top!

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Thanks for reading. I am thankful for all the people who made these games special. I’m blessed to have witnessed some amazing games over the years and I look forward to adding more games to this list in 2019. This pretty much wraps up my offseason content, but stay tuned for the first game recaps of the season coming in the next few months. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again and Go Twins! The season is almost here and the team is looking promising!

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My Baseball Timeline (2018 Update)

Here is the annual continuation of my baseball timeline, including events, milestones, and stadium visits from 2010 to 2018. In addition to adding on the latest year, I’ve also edited and condensed the information from previous versions. Thanks everyone for a great 2018!

2010

– June

First game at Target Field:

It was the first of 102 games and counting to follow.

– August

First game at Coors Field:

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2011

– March

First career baseball:

All the craziness began with a third out ball from a Spring Training game. I didn’t know what ballhawking was yet, but I saw other kids getting balls at the end of innings, so I figured I would give it a shot.

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– June

First time graphing at a game:

It was the coolest thing to meet star player Josh Hamilton and get his autograph on his rookie card I had pulled years prior.

– August

First game at Angel Stadium and first time ballhawking:

By now, I knew about ballhawking and put the basic knowledge learned from Zack Hample’s blogs to the test in my first ever batting practice. I came home empty handed, but I got to see Jim Thome’s 598th homerun and cheer for the Twins on the road.

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2012

– March

9 balls in one day at Spring Training:

Thanks to an free unannounced scrimmage, I got my first taste of ballhawking success. I played the right field berm, the cross aisles, and the dugouts to get a combination of foul balls and tossups. It was a great opportunity for me to learn different techniques with no competition in a relaxed environment. Check out how empty it was:

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2014

– April

First season ballhawking and attending games regularly:

This was the beginning of a stretch of 102 games and 116 balls over the next five seasons. Up until 2014, I had zero balls in only about a dozen games at major league stadiums.

– July

Attended the 2014 MLB All Star Game and Home Run Derby:

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2015

– March

First Spring Training ballhawking:

I made use of the outfield renovations at Hammond Stadium to snag nine balls in one game, including five on the fly.

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First blog post:

This is where it all began: Spring Training 2015: Day 1 – Practice. Since then, I have created 77 posts (including 56 game recaps from four different years) and written over 75,000 words to fill just almost 250 pages of text, not including pictures. Check out this organized list with links to every post: Table of Contents.

– August

First game at Fenway Park:

I caught a ball on the fly for my first ball at a different stadium other than Target Field.

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Visited the Baseball Hall of Fame:

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2016

– March

20 balls in 3 days at Spring Training:

It’s still my biggest haul ever from Spring Training. Check out how it happened:

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– May

100th career baseball:

A simple tossup, my fifth ball of the day, put me at triple digits lifetime.

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– July

First game at US Cellular Field:

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Tour of Wrigley Field:

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2017

– March

Attended the World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park:

This was one of my favorite games I’ve ever attended and the nightcap of my favorite baseball day of my life. Team USA walked off against Colombia in extra innings on their eventual way to becoming WBC champions.

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– May

First game used baseball:

It was a third out ball tossed to me by Alcides Escobar in game two of a doubleheader:

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First game at Petco Park:

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– August

First game homerun:

I caught a game homerun ball on the fly for my 150th lifetime ball at my last game at Target Field for the year before heading off to college:

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First game at Miller Park:

This was my first true baseball road trip and my second time seeing the Twins on the road!

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2018

– January

Tour of SunTrust Park:

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Visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory:

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– April

Visited the Field of Dreams Movie Site:

This was an impromptu side trip after learning that the game a friend and I were planning on attending got snowed out after we were already in Iowa.

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First Minor League game:

We tried our luck two weeks later and were treated to much nicer weather and plenty of Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff autographs, the whole purpose of the day trip.

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– June

100th ball at a MLB stadium:

Caught on the fly off the bat of Nomar Mazara.

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– July

First game at Great American Ball Park:

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100th ball at Target Field:

Caught on the fly off the bat of Willians Austullio.

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– August

100th game at Target Field:

That’s a lot of games.

Attended Ballhawk Fest:

The Midwest hosted the annual event for the first time and the Target Field locals showed up strong.

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– September

First game at Kauffman Stadium:

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This was part of a whirlwind weekend road trip with Dave to see the Twins on the road!

– October

Attended my first postseason game:

I skipped school to make the day trip to Miller Park to watch the Brewers walkoff against the Rockies in extra innings of game one of the NLDS!

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Present

Thanks for reading!

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