My Baseball Timeline (2017 Update)

Here is an updated version of my annual post, My Baseball Timeline. In addition to adding on all of the events from 2017, I also edited and improved the majority of the information. I chose to begin my timeline in 2010 for a few reasons. Before the turn of the decade, I had only been to a handful of baseball games in my lifetime, all of them at the Metrodome. I have distinct memory of at least three of them, but no photos or dates to confirm my attendance. However, I believe I went to one game in each of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons. Starting in 2010, when Target Field opened, I began to attend a couple of games per year. Shortly after, I began to ballhawk, visit new stadiums, and attend more games. I have been able to record the dates of every game at every stadium I have visited since 2010. Therefore, 2010 marks the beginning of my timeline as a fan and as a ballhawk. This date also conveniently corresponds with the new decade and the new era of Twins baseball at Target Field.

 2010

– June

First game at Target Field:

It was the first of 83 regular season games at Target Field that I have attended.

– August

First game at Coors Field:

This was my view from my seat for my first game at a new ballpark:

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2011

– March

First career baseball:

Here I am with my first baseball, the one that started all of this craziness. It was a third out ball from a Spring Training game. I didn’t yet know what ballhawking was, 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:

I was finally figuring out the perks of showing up early. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that I possessed a Josh Hamilton autographed rookie card that I got myself.

– August

First game at Angel Stadium and first time ballhawking:

By now, I knew of ballhawking after reading the blog of Zack Hample and I tried my shot at it during batting practice at Angel Stadium. Though I came away empty handed, I had a great time watching the Twins on the road. I even bought an outfield ticket because Jim Thome was on the verge of 600 homeruns. He needed to hit three, but only ended up with one, number 598 of his career.

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Visited AT&T Park:

On this trip, I only got to drive past AT&T Park, the best stadium in baseball, but I will be back one day to officially cross it off the list.

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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 and I got 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. Here I am inspecting my latest ball on the berm:

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2013

– March

Visited Oriole Park at Camden Yards:

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Visited Nationals Park:

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2014

– April

First time owning season tickets and first time ballhawking regularly at Target Field:

This was the beginning of a 75 game stretch at Target Field over the next four seasons. I snagged roughly 30 baseballs (I wish I had kept track back then) over 22 games in my first season ballhawking at Target Field.

– July

Attended the 2014 All Star Game and Home Run Derby:

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2015

– March

First Spring Training ballhawking:

I snagged 12 balls, including 9 of them in one game, in the first year after the completion of the outfield renovations at Hammond Stadium.image22

First blog post:

This is where it all began: Spring Training 2015: Day 1. Since then, I have created 54 posts and written over 53,000 words to fill just under 200 pages of text, not including pictures.

– 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 was my biggest haul ever from Spring Training. Check out how it happened:

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– May

Career ball #100:

A simple tossup, my fifth ball of that 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

World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park:

I recently voted this game as my most favorite game I’ve ever attended, and for good reason. 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:

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First game at Miller Park:

I ended up snagging a ball to make Miller Park the third different stadium that I have gotten a ball at. This was also my first true baseball road trip and the second time I have seen the Twins play on the road.

Present

Well, there is my story. An eventful 2017 added on to an already interesting timeline. I am looking forward to visiting more stadiums and hitting more milestones over the next few years.

Thanks for reading and surviving the last eight years of my life with me. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. I have a couple more offseason posts planned, so be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post. Also, if you are missing baseball this offseason, be sure to scroll back through my posts to get your baseball fix in! Thanks again and Go Twins!

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2017 Review and 2018 Preview

The Twins brought some positive attention to the Twin Cities in 2017 and gave Minnesota sports fans something to cheer about. After suffering through the worst season in Twins history last year, it was great to cheer on the Twins to a winning season and their first postseason appearance since 2010. The only positive to come out of their Wild Card loss to (guess who?) the Yankees is that I did not miss out on the second postseason game ever to be hosted at Target Field.

Back in 2010, I was 11 years, about to start middle school, and had never heard of ballhawking. I wouldn’t snag my first ball until March of the following year. While I called myself a Twins fan, I didn’t follow the team as religiously as I do now and only attended two games during the inaugural season at Target Field. Since the Twins last postseason game, I have been to 81 home Twins games (an entire season at Target Field) and have snagged over 150 baseballs. Therefore, I appreciated this loss to the Yankees much more that I did seven years ago because it was my first time watching my team play October baseball.

Not only was the 2017 MLB season great for Twins fans, it was also possibly the best season of all time with all that happened around the league. Here are a few reasons why 2017 was the best and why people are starting to care about baseball again:

  • The year of the rookie:
    • Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, playing for the two biggest market teams on opposite coasts, each set their respective league’s rookie home run record
    • Rhys Hoskins and Matt Olson also mashed the ball as lesser known rookies on bad teams
  • Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers, the most in a season since 2001
  • The year of the longball:
    • The MLB homerun record for total homers in a season was broken
    • 41 players hit 30 or more homers this year
  • Indians 27-1 stretch including an AL record 22 straight wins
  • A Tale of Two Dodgers:
    • 31-4 stretch in June/July
    • 1-16 stretch in August/September
  • The year of the underdog:
    • Not only did the Twins make the playoffs after losing 103 games the season before, but the Brewers, with the lowest payroll in baseball, barely missed the playoffs despite having a better record than the Twins
  • Goodbye Cardinals and Giants, Hello Rockies and D’Backs:
    • This was the first year since 2008 that neither the Cardinals or the Giants made the playoffs. Replacing them were NL West foes, the Rockies and the D’Backs
  • The end of the Royals dynasty:
    • Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, and Escobar, who lead the Royals to back to back World Series appearances, are all free agents and KC will be unable to keep all four
  • Three 100 win teams for the first time since 2003
  • Albert Pujols’ 600th homerun and Adrian Beltre’s 3000th hit
  • The fan favorite #HoustonStrong Astros could be World Series contenders in the year Sports Illustrated picked them to win it all… back in 2014!
  • The young Bronx Bombers:
    • The Yankees feature more homegrown talent than ever before and their young talent, Judge, Sanchez, Bird, and Severino, could be the start of a scary Yankee dynasty

While the 2017 MLB season was the best of all time, my ballhawking season was pretty poor. I snagged 16 balls in 16 games at Target Field and one ball in two games outside of Minnesota. Overall, I got 14 balls in 11 batting practices, despite getting shutout in three of them. The other three balls came during the game in the form of a homerun ball, a third out ball, and an infield warmup ball. During BP, I caught three on the fly, got ten in the seats, and got one tossup. All of these numbers are down from last year and here is a graph for comparison:

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Basically, I went to fewer games, snagged fewer balls, and had a lower per game average. Most of the batting practices I attended were pretty weak, so I didn’t put up any big numbers and even got shutout three times. I also caught significantly less on the fly and brought my tossup numbers down even lower. Last year, when I caught a dozen on the fly, I simply had more opportunities and was more aggressive to go for the catch instead of letting it land in the seats. This year, I was able to read the ball of the bat just fine, but was unable to get to where I knew it would land. Either the lack of action made it harder to stay on the tops of my feet or I was just lazy and feared getting injured. Whichever it was, I wasn’t feeling those catches this year.

In terms of tossups, less is better for me. In the middle of last year, I decided that I was going to shy away from tossups to focus all of my attention on playing the batter and going for hit balls. Going for tossups distracts you from the batter and puts you near the crowded front of the section, out of position for hit balls. Also, I feel like I am too old for tossups and that bugging players while they are working by calling out for baseballs is needy and annoying. Every tossup I don’t get means that someone else, usually a kid, will go home with a baseball. Getting a tossup isn’t as satisfying as getting a ball in the seats or on the fly. Anyone can get a tossup by asking politely and being cute, but understanding the batter’s tendencies, playing him in a certain location, and executing to get the ball takes skill and is more rewarding. That being said, if I get a ball tossed up to me without asking for it, I won’t turn it down. If a tossup that wasn’t meant for me lands at my feet or is thrown right at me, I will clear out and let the deserving recipient get the ball. If I pick up the ball, I feel like I can’t count it and if I hand it to the person who earned it, they can’t count it because they didn’t catch it. This scenario happened a few times this year and I indeed turned down the opportunity to pad my stats. I know I play by different rules and that most kids don’t care how they get a ball, whether straight from a player or given to them by another fan, but think it is good etiquette and an often violated rule of ballhawking. I don’t care about sheer numbers or balls per game, I just enjoy having fun catching baseballs and watching others have fun in the hobby.

That being said, while I didn’t do as well this year as I would have liked, 2017 was still my favorite season. I met more people and got to know others better, visited the most new stadiums in a season than ever before, set a goal and worked hard to make it happen, and had the most fun at the ballpark and the most fun blogging about my experiences. Let’s review this great year:

2017 most likely marks the end of a stretch of 75 games at Target Field since 2014. Starting in 2018 and beyond, I will be unable to keep up my pace of around 20 games per year. As you might know, I’ve kept very detailed stats of every game I’ve attended since 2010. What you might not know is that I’ve kept track of where and how I’ve gotten each ball since the beginning of the 2016 season, when I began to blog about individual games. Here is a chart of all the BP balls that I have gotten over the past two seasons:

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The one practical purpose of having a blog is being able to keep track of data like this. I only wish I had records of this from 2014 and 2015 because I remember other balls that I have gotten, but am unable to include them in chart. I plan on updating this as I snag more baseballs at Target Field. I was hoping that this graphic could be used to help others know where to position themselves, but even if it doesn’t, it is still fun to keep track for my sake.

2018 is expected to be different but just as exciting. My season at Target Field is again going to be short, lasting just three months from mid May to mid August. I might almost attend more games away from Target Field than I attend at my home ballpark. Since I love to visit new ballparks and blog about my experiences, I will definitely be crossing off more stadiums from my list in 2018. With my current location less than eight hours away from six different MLB stadiums, day long road trips for afternoon games are entirely possible. There are already a couple of possible road trips in the making for next year. One is to Kansas City (and maybe beyond?) to see the Twins play the Royals in late July. Another is to see the Twins play in Baltimore and Pittsburgh on back to back days during the first week of the season. Finally, Twins and Cubs at Wrigley Field for a weekend series could be a fun possibility. All of these are still up in the air, but I would love for all of them to happen. Mixed in between baseball road trips will be a handful of games at Target Field. I am hoping for between six and ten games at my home ballpark, where, once again, I will be in the outfield in preparation for another homerun ball.

Thanks for reading. I want to thank everyone that made 2017 such a great season. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. I have a couple more offseason posts planned, so be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post. Thanks again and Go Twins! I can’t wait for 2018!

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Top 20 Games Attended

I have a great time at every game I go to, however, some games are more special than others. Every time you go to the ballpark, you never know what you might see or what might happen. In my 90 some ballgames attended since 2010, I have witnessed more than my fair share of exciting games. Here are my top 20 games attended, based either upon excellent performances and historic achievements on the field, or on my overall experience:

20. Dozier’s Three Homer Game – 9/5/16

Brian Dozier blasted three homers against the Royals, numbers 36-38 of his record breaking season, one to each deck in left field. He joined Max Kepler on the list of Twins to do so in 2016, but was only the third Twin to accomplish this feat since 1973.

19. Big Papi’s Consecutive Multi-Homer Games – 5/13/14 and 5/14/14

David Ortiz punished his old team with back to back two homer games. All four homeruns were hit to the same spot in right center. While this performance spanned two games, I was present for both and I am choosing to add it to the list.

18. Twins/Tigers Brawl After Beanball – 4/22/17

Bench clearing brawls are always exciting and certainly memorable. After JaCoby Jones was unintentionally hit in the face with a fastball, Matt Boyd threw behind Miguel Sano. Sano responded by landing a punch on James McCann, promptly clearing the benches. The Tigers went on to win by one run in the tense rivalry.

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

At only my forth game ever at Target Field, I watched my favorite player Alexi Casilla walk-off the Rangers. When I only went to one or two games a year, each moment meant more to me. My dad and I splurged to get lower level tickets down the 3rd baseline, which is still the only time I have bought a lower level ticket at Target Field. I got to go for foul balls, got Josh Hamiliton’s autograph (my first time graphing at a game), and got to see the longest homerun of all time, a Mike Napoli third decker. It wasn’t really the longest, but it felt like it to me.

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

In my very first game at Target Field, I witnessed MLB history. 83 games later, it is still the only history I have witnessed. Denard Span tied the MLB record for most three-baggers in a game with three of “the most exciting play in baseball.” I have money on Byron Buxton to accomplish this feat later on in his promising career.

15. 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.

14. 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.”

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

I enjoyed a perfect week of baseball, attending four games in four days from Tuesday to Friday. I was present for the entire series against my second favorite team, the Miami Marlins, as well as the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, the day the Twins honored Big Papi’s great career. I was treated to perfect weather and great ballhawking that week. I got 11 batting practice homeruns in those four games, including five on the fly and four in one game. I snagged balls off the bats of legends Ichiro and David Ortiz (pictured below) and sluggers Marcell Ozuna and Hanley Rameriz. I also got to see fan favorite Jose Fernandez for the first and only time before he tragically passed away two months later. It is still to this day the best four game ballhawking stretch of my career, and it all happened within four days.

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12. 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 75 game stretch at Target Field over the next four seasons. On the balmy 59 degree day after Opening Day, I witnessed the craziest games I had ever seen. The Twins rallied back to tie the Oakland A’s in the ninth after back to back sucessful replay reviews (on their second day of existance) to keep the Twins alive. Then, the benches cleared in the 10th after Josh Donaldson and Glen Perkins exchanged harsh words. Finally, in the 11th, Derek Norris lanched a go ahead, three run homer to put the game out of reach.

 

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

My second doubleheader of the season was a lot more pleasant than the first, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s instead of the 40s. I was also joined by Dave, which made the 2.5 hour break between games and the 1.5 hour rain delay during the second game a lot more fun. I spent all 18 innings chasing homers in the deserted plaza, actually coming close to a few of them.

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10. Santana Allows Two Base Runners in Complete Game Shutout – 7/6/16

Ervin Santana pitched the best game I have ever witnessed. He pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just two hits while striking out nine and walking none on exactly 100 pitches. He needed just 28 batters to get 27 outs, being helped out by a doubleplay. Ervin’s seven complete games since 2016 leads all of baseball.

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. Eddie Rosario hit three homeruns (the third Twin to do so in the last two seasons), Eduardo Escobar recorded five hits, while three others racked up four hit games.

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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.

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

I got to experiance 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. Dick Bremer had a great call: “A drive to left field… Are you kidding me? The most electric moment at Target Field in years!” This was the most pumped up I have every gotten at a game. It felt like a playoff atmosphere with 30,000 fans celebrating at the top of their lungs. I witnessed both of his walk-offs that week in person, and both were equally special. After being denied a spot on the All Star roster on Sunday night, Dozier responded by hitting a walk-off dinger on Monday night. After losing the final vote competition earlier in the day, Dozier made a statement on Friday night by hitting another walk-off bomb, proving to the world that he got snubbed. Cory Provus summed it up with his radio call: “Can you believe this rally? Can you believe that guy will not be in Cinncinati? He’s an All Star in Twins Territory…”

6. 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 of his video)! 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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5. 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! Read about my experience here (about halfway down the post).

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4. Road Trip to Miller Park – 8/9/17

My first true baseball road trip with my friends to see the Twins on the road was one of my best baseball experiences! It’s looking like there is another road trip in the works for 2018 and I can’t wait!

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3. 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. Five innings later, when I finally turned my attention back to the game, I 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 way to go out! (Note: I have seen the Brewers play three times and all three games made this list. It looks like they are becoming my favorite team to watch!)

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2. 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 with all of the festivities!

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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 was 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. This great game had the atmosphere of the postseason but felt like a World Cup Soccer match with all the nationalism and pride. I will never forget this amazing game!

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Thanks for reading. I am thankful for all the people who made these games special, especially Tony, Dave, Nate, James, and Jake. I’m blessed to have witnessed some amazing games over the years and look forward to watching more history, traveling to more new stadiums, and meeting more new people in the coming years. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. This was the second of several offseason posts I have planned, so be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified when ever I post. Thanks again and Go Twins! Hang onto that Wild Card!

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Ranking All 30 MLB Stadiums

Normally, I would save non-ballhawking posts like this one for the offseason, but I have been itching for a new blog post ever since my season ended over a month ago. This is the first of multiple posts I have planned, including a season review, updated timeline, and other lists I might compile. Because I enjoy research, writing, creating lists, and baseball, naturally I decided to take a stab at ranking all 30 MLB ballparks. I’ve seen many different versions of this list, but rarely do I find numerical values associated with each ranking. Most are biased and provide no reasoning behind their ordering. I am going to attempt to arrange all 30 stadiums, as unbiased as possible, based on the following factors:

  • Location (up to 3 points):

    • The best ballparks have a great location and incorporate their surroundings in the design of the stadium
  • Atmosphere (up to 3 points):

    • A large, engaged crowd adds to the fan experience.
  • Uniqueness (up to 3 points):

    • The best stadiums have multiple features that set them apart from the rest of field.
  • Attractiveness (up to 3 points):

    • Even stadiums without a great location can be pleasing to the eye.

However, some stadiums still feel like a top tier ballpark, even if they score low in the above categories. That is why there are several bonuses to take into account as well:

  • Charm (up to 1 point):

    • Geared towards small market stadiums, this is what makes fans want to come back. A safe, family-friendly, positive environment is always a plus.
  • Historic (up to 1 point):

    • Without this bonus, Fenway and Wrigley would just be average stadiums.
  • Retractable Roof (up to 1 point):

    • These type of stadiums get docked on attractiveness, so its only fair to reward them for their architectural wonder and the ability to protect fans from the elements, which enhances their experience.

If I really wanted to, I could have judged the stadiums on other things, like overall fan experience, average attendance, home team winning percentage, years since last renovation, and even total score compared to cost to build and square footage (to find the stadiums that best maximized money and space) but I decided to go basic… for now.

Now here are the full rankings, from best to worst, according to their total number of points: (Note that the order of stadiums that are tied at a point value is totally random and I am not suggesting that one is better than another.)

AT&T Park – Total Score: 12

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Location: +3, Atmosphere: +3, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +3, Charm Bonus +1

Years of success matched with daily sellouts make this a premier spot to watch baseball. Its picturesque location on the bay, the possibility of hitting a ball into the ocean, and the unique features of the outfield configuration, the giant glove and Coke bottle, and the garden in the batter’s eye make this the best stadium in all of baseball. The strong ballhawking community, the notable figures out in the Cove, and the friendly seagulls make AT&T Park a place you want to come back to.

Fenway Park – Total Score: 10

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +3, Uniqueness +3, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1, Historic Bonus +1

Fenway should be on the bucket list of every baseball fan. The 100 year old ballpark in the heart of America’s most passionate sports town has a rich history and many unique features including the Green Monster, Pesky’s Pole, the manual scoreboard, and the outfield configuration. The small ballpark, packed daily with passionate fans, is full of history and tradition.

Wrigley Field – Total Score: 10

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +3, Uniqueness +3, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1, Historic Bonus +1

The “Friendly Confines” is home to passionate fans who have suffered through years of losses and curses but now have something to celebrate. Recent renovations have improved fan experience, but the classic ivy and the manual scoreboard in center are here to stay. Similar to Fenway, nothing beats watching good baseball alongside passionate fans at a ballpark with a century worth of history.

PNC Park – Total Score: 9

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Location: +3, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +3, Charm Bonus +1

On the banks of the Allegheny River, PNC Park features the best downtown views in baseball. The stadium honors the rich history of the Pirates with the Roberto Clemente Bridge and other statues and monuments. When the Pirates are playing good baseball, PNC is the spot to be.

Busch Stadium – Total Score: 9

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Location: +2, Atmosphere: +3, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +3

Busch Stadium truly is one of the cathedrals of baseball. Its massive expanse of red seats with its stunning red brick exterior makes it a beautiful place to watch the Cardinals’ dynasty. Oh, and it offers stunning views of downtown and the Arch.

Dodger Stadium – Total Score: 8

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Location: +2, Atmosphere: +3, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +2

This cathedral of baseball looks better empty than full with its expansive, colorful seats. It’s quite the experience watching the stacked Dodger lineup along with 56,000 rowdy fans. The historic Dodger Stadium sits just miles from downtown L.A. but offers great views of the rugged landscape of Chavez Ravine.

Kauffman Stadium – Total Score: 7

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Location: +0 , Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +2, Charm Bonus +1

The eyes of the world fell upon the K in 2014 and 2015, highlighting the Royals’ passionate fan base for the first time in 30 years. It is a premier venue for postseason baseball with its dancing fountains and spaceship design, despite being in the middle of nowhere.

Progressive Field – Total Score: 6

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Progressive Field got a big boast in the rankings after hosting the World Series in their newly renovated ballpark. The recent success of the Tribe, in addition to its convenient location and its numerous seating areas, are only part of what makes this place great. The outfield now features parks and monuments, a unique bullpen setup that lets you get up close and personal with the players, and wide walkways which improve the fan experience.

Petco Park – Total Score: 6

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Location: +2, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Petco Park is the perfect combination of location and uniqueness for a small market team. It’s premium location offers views of downtown, airplanes landing, the San Diego Bay, and the Coronado Bridge. Its unique design built into the Western Metal Supply Co. Building and surrounded by green spaces makes Petco a top 10 stadium, despite the lack of fans to cheer on the struggling Padres.

Target Field – Total Score: 6

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Location: +2, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Despite a recent history of losing seasons, the Twins’ faithful continue to show up and cheer on the home team at Target Field. The third newest MLB stadium features many things that stand out from the rest of the league. The Plaza leads right out into downtown, the unique Overlook overhangs right field, and the numerous bars and restaurants, with lots of local flavors, create a fun environment for every type of fan. The charm of this small market ballpark, thanks to some of the nicest employees and fans in the game, makes it a true Midwest gem.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Total Score: 6

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Location: +2, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Twenty-five years ago, OPACY broke through as the first modern ballpark. Today, it is still a top ten stadium thanks to its downtown location situated between the famous Warehouse and Eutaw Street. Additionally, Flag Court is one of the best standing room areas in baseball.

Coors Field – Total Score: 5

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +2, Charm Bonus +1

Situated a mile above sea level, boasting beautiful skies and views of the mountains, Coors Field is primarily known for its thin air that causes baseballs to travel further. However, it is much more than that. It is creeping up on the list thanks to recent renovations to create The Rooftop in right field and the phenomenal play of the Rockies. The Rockpile seating in center, the beautifully landscape bullpens, and the classic exterior are all beautifully unique things that make Coors a premier place to watch baseball.

Nationals Park – Total Score: 5

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Still one of the newer and greener stadiums in baseball, Nationals Park is a top stadium thanks to the thriving Nationals, its unique seating configuration, and beautiful exterior.

Comerica Park – Total Score: 5

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +0, Attractiveness +2, Charm Bonus +1

Situated downtown just a mile from Windsor, Ontario, Comerica Park is one of the best looking stadiums in baseball. This classic ballpark, with deep fences, a carousel, and tiger statues, is a great place to watch October baseball.

Citizens Bank Park – Total Score: 5

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +2, Charm Bonus +1

Another beautiful, classic stadium with a great layout, Citizens Bank Park is home to the Phillie Fanatic as well as some of the best fans and employees in baseball.

Safeco Field – Total Score: 5

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

Tied for highest ranked of the six retractable roof stadiums, Safeco Field is a true gem. Located right on the waterfront, it has the look and feel of an outdoor stadium but still can protect its loyal fans from the dreary Seattle weather. The party deck and unique access behind the bullpens are examples of the excellent fan experience to be found at baseball’s most isolated stadium.

Minute Maid Park – Total Score: 5

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus+1, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

Even without Tal’s Hill in center, Minute Maid Park is still one of the most unique stadiums in baseball. The railroad tracks, the left field configuration, the giant glass panels, and the exciting Astros team make it a prime spot to watch baseball.

Chase Field – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

As one of the largest and most architecturally stunning ballparks in the majors, Chase Field is the perfect place to visit to escape the hot Arizona heat. It is home to the surging Dbacks, a pool, and an exclusive field level area behind the right field wall.

Rogers Centre – Total Score: 4

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +0, Attractiveness +0, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

The only stadium not on American soil is perfectly located on the Lake Ontario waterfront underneath the famous CN Tower. It features a hotel with views of the field as well as the coolest retractable roof in baseball. It’s quite the experience to watch America’s pastime alongside 50,000 rowdy Canadians.

SunTrust Park – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

MLB’s newest stadium is tough to grade, but it is state of the art and features new exclusive areas, which improves the fan experience.

Miller Park – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

Miller Park radiates a true Midwest charm, boasts an impressive roof, a gorgeous exterior, and of course, Bernie’s Slide.

Marlins Park – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1, Retractable Roof Bonus +1

Marlins Park perfectly embodies the city of Miami and is definitely an acquired taste. Its vibrant colors, outfield configuration, night club with pool, and homerun sculpture are unique to say the least.

Great American Ball Park – Total Score: 4

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Location: +1, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1, Charm Bonus +1

Though GABP is located right on the Ohio River, there is no possibility of a splash hit, unlike in San Francisco and Pittsburgh, with the water over 600 feet away from home plate. Nonetheless, there is definitely a charm about the place and the Reds Hall of Fame within the ballpark is a nice touch.

Citi Field – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +2, Attractiveness +0

Citi Field is full of unique features that are elements of the Mets’ past, such as the Home Run Apple and Shea Bridge. However, the odd outfield seating with the quadruple deck in left and the huge bullpens in right center are more than enough to make Citi Field unique. Though the inside is a jumbled puzzle of odd seating areas, the exterior, including the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, are a classic look.

Yankee Stadium – Total Score: 4

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +2, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +1

The other cathedral of baseball and by far the most expensive MLB stadium to be built, is truly iconic. Modeled after the original “House That Ruth Build,” Yankee Stadium features the iconic frieze on the roof and Monument Park in center.

Angel Stadium – Total Score: 3

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1

This surprising old stadium has been beautifully restored to its current state, featuring an iconic waterfall. However, the outfield has a lot of dead space which detracts from the overall beauty of the stadium.

Globe Life Park – Total Score: 3

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +1, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1

Globe Life Park is only 20 years old but already looks and feels outdated. Seat views are either of the ugly office building in center or obstructed by the giant support beams in right. Globe Life Park is not the best place to be on a hot summer day, even if the Rangers are playing well.

Tropicana Field – Total Score: 2

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +1, Attractiveness +0, Charm Bonus +1

Baseball is not meant to be played indoors, but never having to deal with inclement weather is definitely a plus. Therefore, the Trop does not receive a bonus for its roof, since it is not retractable, but it is not penalized either because it increases fan comfort. It is home to a ray touch pool and its infamous catwalks that sometimes interfere with balls in play.

Guaranteed Rate Field – Total Score: 1

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +0, Attractiveness +1

There is nothing wrong with the home of the White Sox, but there is nothing special about it either. The completely symmetrical, slightly outdated stadium on the wrong side of Chicago is overshadowed by Wrigley Field just miles away. Until the Sox start playing good baseball, Guaranteed Rate Field will continue to be one of the worst places to take in a baseball game.

O.co Coliseum – Total Score: 0

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Location: +0, Atmosphere: +0, Uniqueness +0, Attractiveness +0

The last football/baseball dual purpose stadium definitely does not suit baseball very well, evidenced by its expansive foul territory and poor seating arrangements. It is also outdated, with repeated leakage of sewage reported over the last few years. The Athletics deserve their own stadium, but until that happens, O.co will continue to be the worst stadium in the league.

Here is the complete list:

  • 1st: AT&T Park – 12
  • T-2nd: Fenway Park – 10
  • T-2nd: Wrigley Field – 10
  • T-4th: PNC Park – 9
  • T-4th: Busch Stadium – 9
  • 6th: Dodger Stadium – 8
  • 7th: Kauffman Stadium – 7
  • T-8th: Progressive Field – 6
  • T-8th: Petco Park – 6
  • T-8th: Target Field – 6
  • T-8th: Oriole Park – 6
  • T-12th: Coors Field – 5
  • T-12th: Nationals Park – 5
  • T-12th: Comerica Park – 5
  • T-12th: Citizens Bank Park – 5
  • T-12th: Safeco Field – 5
  • T-12th: Minute Maid Park – 5
  • T-18th: Chase Field – 4
  • T-18th: Rogers Centre – 4
  • T-18th: SunTrust Park – 4
  • T-18th: Miller Park – 4
  • T-18th: Marlins Park -4
  • T-18th: Great American Ballpark – 4
  • T-18th: Citi Field – 4
  • T-18th: Yankee Stadium – 4
  • T-26th: Angel Stadium – 3
  • T-26th: Globe Life Park – 3
  • 28th: Tropicana Field – 2
  • 29th: Guaranteed Rate Field – 1
  • 30th: O.co Coliseum – 0

I would generally say that a score of 7 and above is amazing, 5 and 6 are great, 4 is good, 3 is okay, and 2 and below are poor.

Thanks for reading. I truly tried my best to judge each stadium without bias, but because I have not been to most of them, I admit I might have overlooked a few things. I have been to games at Target Field, Coors Field, Angel Stadium, Fenway Park, Guaranteed Rate Field, Marlins Park, Petco Park, and Miller Park, and visited AT&T Park, Wrigley Field, Oriole Park, and Nationals Park. I hope to someday visit all 30 and then be able to rank them based on personal experience. If you have any comments, questions, suggestions, or if you disagree with any of my rankings, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified when ever I post next, which should be at least a few times this offseason. Thanks again and Go Twins!

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Twins vs. Brewers (Miller Park) – 8/9/17

After planning a Miller Park trip for July and having it fall through, I was looking forward to finally crossing it off the list. This was my first true baseball road trip, although already attending games at 8 current stadiums. I was looking forward to cheering on the Twins on the road in the company of Tony and James. My mom and I left Minnesota at 9:00 am and arrived at our hotel by 2:30. We thought about making it a true day trip and attempting the 5 hour drive through the night, but we ultimately gave in and got a hotel. I planned to get to the stadium by 3:30 to allow for plenty of time to wander around, catch up with friends, and play catch. However, the parking lots that surround the stadium didn’t even open until 4:10, so we ended up waiting in a line of cars for a half hour. After overpaying for parking a half mile away, I crossed through this archway:

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Finnaly, I met with Tony and James at the Clock Tower gate at 4:25:

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The roof and windows were open tonight, which, according to local Ballhawk Shawn, meant that the ball would carry further:

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Unlike Target Field, season ticket holders don’t get in two hours early every weeknight game. However, today was one of the few times each year that the doors open early. Thanks to Shawn, the five of us Minnesotans (Tony, James, his brother, my mom, and myself) were able to enter in at 5:10. The Brewers didn’t take batting practice that day, although we would have missed it anyway because the home team is normally done by then.

Since the Twins weren’t hitting yet, I leisurely made my way around the outfield:

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Having already seen the entirety of Twins BP this season, I knew that left field was the place to be:

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This is as close to the field you can get in left because of the TGI Fridays restaurant below:

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This was just one of many things that made Miller Park tough for ballhawking. For starters, it is 345 feet down either line, putting you further from home plate. Also, other than maybe the very front row in right, the upper decks are the only places to catch balls in the outfield because of the restaurant in left and the patio area and overhang of the second deck in right:

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There is no easy way to get between right and left, and you are limited to four sections in right and six sections in left for catching balls:

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There was literally less than a dozen people in the outfield until 5:40 when the gates officially opened, so it frustrating that there wasn’t much action. There were only two homers that reached the seats during the first group of Twins BP, and none of them to left. A few minutes before 5:40, near the end of the second group, Dozier finally turned on a pitch to left. It was hit right to James in the front row, but he lost it in the brutal sun. It ended up hitting off the railing, bouncing straight forward off a bleacher in the 6th row, and bounding up in the air back to my glove:

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A series of crazy ricochets resulted in my first ball of the day, number 151 lifetime. Despite this being my eighth stadium, it was just the third one that I had gotten a ball at (Target Field, Fenway Park, and Miller Park).

When Sano and Vargas took their cuts in the third group, I positioned myself as far away as I could in the concourse:

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I was backed up all the way to where the giant windows roll into place:

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If one of them launched one up here, as I knew they could, then I would have plenty of room to move. This was my view:

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As I figured, Sano and Vargas both reached me, but both put them over my head and out of the stadium:

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If the giant windows were closed, I could have had a chance on the ricochet. It’s silly that I was playing them as far away as I could, but yet had to watch several balls sail over my head. Either Vargas and Sano are too powerful, or Miller Park is too small.

Twins BP ended at 5:59, meaning that the general public got to see less than 20 minutes of batting practice. The only positive of this was that I had longer to wander around the stadium. Here are some of the pictures I took:

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As always, I tried the local nachos, my favorite ballpark food:

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They were better than Marlins Park:

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And Petco Park both already this year:

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However, nothing has topped Target Field:

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These are the nachos from the Metropolitan Club, but the regular Nacho Grande are great too.

After eating, I found my assigned seat:

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That’s right. I was in the front row, right on the aisle in straightaway left field. I liked my chances to catch another homer tonight. I especially wanted another from this guy:

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With Bartolo Colon in the batting lineup, I made sure to have my glove ready when he took his cuts:

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While there was little homerun action (Dozier hit one a section to my right for the only homer of the game), there was plenty of tossup action. Brewers’ left fielder Ryan Braun tossed his warmup ball deep into the crowd each of the first seven innings and Eddie Rosario tossed his up before three innings. I didn’t snag any of these tossups, but it was fun to be part of the buzzing excitement every inning as kids would clog the front row and yell.

The Twins shutout the the Brewers 4-0 in another strong outing by Bartolo Colon.

After the game, I met up with Tony and James down by the dugout:

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We quickly parted ways because Tony had to drive back home yet that night. I couldn’t help but realize that this was my last Twins game of the year and the last time ballhawking with the Minnesota Crew until late May. My season ended on a high note with the game homerun catch on Monday and then this trip to Milwaukee, but it was still sad to have it end, especially with the way the Twins have been playing lately (six game winning streak as I write this).

Overall, I had a great time at a new stadium. The roof is cool and the stadium is pleasing to the eye (mainly from the outside), but it isn’t great for ballhawking and the concourses are dark, full of concrete, pillars, and support beams. There is definitely a charm to it and I would say that it embodies the culture of Milwaukee fairly well.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy reading these stadium reviews as much as I enjoy writing about my new experiences, be sure to check out my blog posts from the stadiums I have been to in the last year:

Also, read about the other stadiums I have been to games at (Coors, Angel, and Fenway) in My Baseball Timeline. Be on the lookout for an updated version of the timeline as I review everything that has happened in the year since that post came out. This may be my last game summary of the year, but there is a chance I may attend a game on the east coast later this season. Be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post, because while my season may be over, I still have a few more blogs planned. 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! #Postseason2017

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Brewers vs. Twins – 8/7/17

This was going to be my last game at Target Field this season, and I wanted to make the most of it. I was sitting on 149 lifetime balls, and I hoped to hit 150 today in a special way. I was planning on arriving at the gates before 4:00, to soak in the sights and sounds one last time, and to meet up with Tony for early entry at 5:00.

However, my ideal final game didn’t start the way I planned. A gas leak had stopped train service to Target Field, so I didn’t arrive until 5:15, missing Twins BP and early entry all together. When I finally entered the gates at 5:30 after a long series of bus transfers, I headed up to the second deck in left. Within seconds, I had my best action of BP. A ball was hit right between Dave and myself in the 4th row of the section. Our gloves converged on the ball and tipped it away from both of us. I was upset because that might have been my best shot at number 150, and catching the milestone on the fly would have been extra special. There were a few more second (and third) deck shots from the first group of all righties, but the extra border battle competition swallowed them up.

The second group featured Eric Thames, so I relocated to the grandstand since the plaza was packed. There were three balls hit up there, but I didn’t end up with any. I was desperate for a ball because I didn’t want the pressure on me to get one in Milwaukee, and the third group left me empty handed. The half hour of BP I missed and the catch I should have made were going to come back and haunt me.

Since there were far more righties than lefties in each team’s lineup, I decided to head up to the concourse in left instead of my usual spot in the plaza. I had spent one entire game and parts of a few others up in this same spot I was positioned tonight:

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I liked this spot because I could sit on a rail behind me and still see the batter (if the chairs weren’t occupied), I could move side to side and forward into the handicap area, and the overhang was slightly further back so it wouldn’t swallow up every ball. It sometimes gets crowded with people stopping to watch the game as they walk or with people waiting to get down into the section. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a place I could stand in the outfield without needing a ticket that gave me even just a slight chance of seeing some action. Not liking my chances on a crowded night like tonight, I was perfectly okay letting the quest for my first game homerun last into next season. But Keon Broxton wanted me to have a storybook ending…

In the top of the 3rd, Broxton crushed a ball off of Ervin Santana that was headed right towards me. I stood up and and staggered forward a few steps to make the chest high grab:

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I immediatatly leaned over and turned to Dave (with his hands up in celebration) who was a section over on the aisle of the last row and held up my glove to show him my prized possession:

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(Sorry for the blurry image. It is off of a TV since the Twins’ coverage was the only one that showed both Dave and I in celebration.)

Here are equally blurry, zoomed in screenshots from the Brewers’ broadcast, via MLB.com:

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(To watch the video itself, click here.)

I immediately was joined in the concourse by Dave and James and texted by Tony.

Before the at bat, I thought to myself that Broxton was probably the one guy in the lineup for either team that could hit a ball that far, remembering his 490 foot blast from earlier in the season. I visualized what the swing and the ball coming at me would look like and how I would react to it. Seconds later, my thoughts because reality as I caught my first game homerun on the fly for a very special 150th career ball in my final game at Target Field for the year. Since I always listen to the radio broadcast of the game, I have forever been worried that when the time came, I would be thrown off not hearing the ball hit the bat or be distracted by the commentary, but it was not a problem.

The ball was hit at 105 mph at a launch angle of 30 degrees, reached at max height of 101 feet, and traveled a projected 431 feet in 5.4 seconds. It was Broxton’s 15th homer of the year and his 24th of his career.

Throughout my many innings spent up in the concourse with my glove, I have gotten many odd looks, and people have scoffed at me saying that homeruns don’t go that far. Usually it is not the best place to catch a homer, but on this certain night, only one of 33,000 fans left with a homerun ball. That one fan was me, the boy who leaned up against a rail under an overhang, 430 feet from homeplate, willing the ball be hit to him. It was not luck that I was standing where I was when it happened, but it was incredible luck that a ball was finally hit up right to me.

That homer in the 3rd inning made the score 1-0, and it wasn’t until the top of the seventh inning, Brewers now leading 4-3, that I tuned into the game again. My phone was blowing up after I announced it and I received dozens of compliments and requests to see the ball throughout the rest of the game. Shortly after turning my attention back to the field, I got to see my favorite player Eddie Rosario double in the tying run and pull a sneaky move on the pitcher to score on a balk from 3rd for the go ahead, winning run. The Twins had managed to rally back and they held on for a 5-4 win.

After the game, I met with Tony and we took a fun picture, posing with the homerun ball, my 150th lifetime:

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Look familiar? That’s because Tony was also there and took a picture with me and my 50th ball, back in March 2015:

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Speaking of milestones, here is a bit about each of my milestone balls so far:

What started out as a frustrating day ended up as the most memorable game of my life. A special thanks to Dave, Tony, and James who were there to celebrate with me and apparently all “called my catch” before the game.

Thanks for reading. My next game will be on August 9th at Miller Park, and I am thrilled to be blogging about and showing off my 3rd new stadium of the year, after Marlins Park and Petco Park! After that, I am off to the state of North Carolina for college, where I will be less than seven hours away from five new ballparks (Atlanta, Cincinnati, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh)! There is a slight chance that I will cross off one of these stadiums yet this season or early next year, so stay tuned for that. Be sure to follow/subscribe to be notified whenever I post next. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram @everythingtwins. Thanks again for reading and for all of the support. Go Twins!

 

 

 

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Rangers vs. Twins – 8/4/17

I arrived exactly at 5:00 and headed up to the second deck in left field. It was a rare Friday night game for me, which meant that the upper decks would be open for the last group of Twins BP. I played Sano up in the concourse so that I could run down the stairs, move quickly between sections, and could be the first up the stairs to the upper deck if need be. However, Sano didn’t hit a single one to the upper decks at all today, so my positioning didn’t pay off.

The Rangers first group featured three righties, highlighted by Mike Napoli. Other than one that was hit into the concourse near me (I got beat up the stairs for it), all of the homers were hit towards center field. Every batter hammered the facing of CATCH and the batter’s eye. A few were hit just to the left field side of CATCH, landing in the second deck above the bullpens, but all of them bounced back. Eventually, I headed over to there, where there had been the most action, but to no avail.

Joey Gallo and two other lefties were in the second group for the Rangers, so I headed over to the plaza. I was the only one with a glove out there for the first couple of swings, but towards the end of the group, I was joined by at least half a dozen other folks. The ensuing action, the tough competition, and the streams of people entering the gates made for a crazy five minutes. All three lefties were launching ball after ball to the plaza and to the grandstand. Many of them were hit right to the staircase, which created crazy ricochets in all directions. I managed to snag one that bounced down the stairs of the grandstand and rattled around in the corner. The highlight of the round was a ball hit by Gallo I suspect (I couldn’t see the hitters from where I was positioned) that cleared Gate 34 on the fly. I tracked the ball the whole way but had to stop when I reached the gates, watching the ball land just short of Killebrew’s mark, the giant glove. I’ve never seen or heard of that happening before. BP balls often one hop the gate, but never clear it on the fly.

The third group of BP was really dull, so I caught up with fellow card collector and beginner ballhawk LP Cards from Instagram.

I wasn’t out in the plaza today during the game, which worked out because there wasn’t any action out there.

The Twins won 8-4 behind Bartolo Colon’s complete game.

Thanks for reading. My next game on Monday the 7th will be my last at Target Field this year. Then, I’m off to Miller Park on the 9th to catch the Twins on the road! Make sure to follow/subscribe or check back for my upcoming posts. 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!

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