Yesterday was the best day of my angel loving life. I had the opportunity go on the field, play some baseball, get some prizes, eat a big meal, and enjoy free tickets for a walk off angel victory later that night.
It started with a girlfriend. Long story short, my girlfriends dad works for Southern California Edison and is a pretty big deal. Once every year they host an event to Edison employees where they are only allowed to take 4 people to an all day event at Angel stadium. This year he decided to bring his daughter (my girlfriend) and myself. I had been counting down the days to this lovely event.
Upon arriving at 9am to angel stadium, I quickly recieved a free angels jersey of my size, a raffle ticket, and a bag of goodies. Inside the bag I found an angels beachtowel, an angels squirt bottle, a free angels baseball hat like the ones at giveaway nights, and a couple other small items. Myself and about 100 other people where mingling around between the big red hats waiting for some direction. An announcement came that all players who would be going on the field to play baseball needed to gather around. I had to sign a waiver about going on the field. Not all 100 of us were allowed to go on the field, but rather around 50 of us. The main gates opened and we were hearded like cattle straight into the diamond club.
There before us lay an elaborate display of fruit, muffins, rolls, and other breakfast assortments. The diamond club seats were available for us to all sit in and look around at an omonously empty stadium. A couple groundscrew workers were out and about mowing the lawn here and there and setting up for our event. Right away the 50 on field participants, including myself, marched straight down through the front gate behind home plate and escorted to the visitor dugout. The smiles on everyones faces grew bigger and bigger as we all knew what was about to happen.
After checking and rechecking that my glove and gear was on properly, i embarked on my first step into the big A. It really is the nicest grass I have ever seen in my life. It took a good 15 seconds for me to realize that the grass was actually real. I had never seen something cut so perfectly. We were walked into right field and all I could think about was that I was standing where the Big Daddy Vladdy gets to be. We spread into a big circle and began doing some basic stretching.
I have to say that looking around at all the empty seats I can fully understand the amount of pressure a rookie has on his first time in the big A. After the stretching, brand new baseballs were dispersed and we were allowed to warm up and throw it around a bit. I quickly darted over towards center and began to warm up. All the while, having the biggest smile on my face. After about 10 minutes we were huddled up together and told about the days events to come.
The man in charge told us we were to be split into three stations. The first station would be doing hitting at home plate with Mickey Hatcher. The second station would be in right field and it would be infield grounders with Robb Quinlan. The last station in center field was doing pop flys and catching against the wall with Ron Roenicke. I know not many people around here like Hatcher but he is a funny guy.
My first station was infield with Robb Q. I found it funny that he was the one teaching us how to properly play infield when I dont find him that good at protecting third base. We did some basic drills and he taught us to keep our butts down low to the ground. Of all the things I remember about my encounter with him was that he has extremely soft hands ( because I shook his hand ). He is an all around nice guy, but in the shirt he was wearing he was a little hefty and not someone you would picture as a baseball player. After about 15 minutes I was rotated to station 2.
At station two I met up with Ron R. He is also a very nice guy and was more than eager to answer any questions, unfortunately nobody was in the mood to ask any because of the amount of excitement. The station involved him teaching us how to properly go up against a wall to rob a homer without getting hurt. He taught us tricks to stick out a hand to feel for the wall while we looked in the air for a pop fly. After the teaching we stood in line and had practice catching balls up against the fence. The best part of this station was when he described how he determines where torri h plays strategically for every batter and how Ron tells him exactly where to be. He did mention that for someone hefty like Lackey, he has to place torri a little bit farther to the side so he can see the ball leave the bat without being obstructed. I wanted to ask him what he thought about anderson never diving for a pop fly but didn't get the chance.
The last station, and my favorite, was with good ol Hatcher. About 5 feet away from him you could smell how strong his cologne was. He had the attitude of always being drunk yet wasnt. His quick banter and witty remarks made for a good laugh. A couple people asked him questions about why vlad was in his slump and he merely said vlad was very tight and sore ever since the road trip and still had not found his groove enough to loosen up. Another person asked him about when figgy was coming back. His response was that figgy was totally ok to come back, even could start later that night against toronto, but they just decided not to rush into anything. So after some small talk came the hitting. Each person was given 8 pitches to try and hit. I have to say I had little success because Hatcher threw the ball very low, I would say below the knees. Each time I had to try and get under the pitch and I ended up popping up. My girlfriend sat in the diamond club taking tons of photos and videos of me hitting at home plate. It was a great experience.
Once all the stations had been run through, we gathered around and were split into 4 teams to play some fun scrimmage games that lasted about 20 minutes a game. The home plate for the game was second base, and three more based were placed into the outfield. I am rather proud of myself because I batted 3 for 4 and I got 2 HR's, both of which were 2 run homers. I was rather nice to know that I could hit a ball from second base into the Lion King Pride Rock style waterfall out there. Although I got 4 RBI's, my team fell 11 to 10 to the other team. The fun games lasted till around 12 in the afternoon and it started to get kinda warm out there. I definitely did not want to leave that field.
Mickey, Robb, and Ron left about half way through the fun scrimmaging, right after we took quick photos with them in out different teams. All the while that the fun games were going on, the big jumbo screen was working and going around showing us hit and such. After my home run the graphic showed home run and it made me smile. During the down time when I was not in a fun scrimmage I walked around with the camera and took some photos. I learn that the visitor dugout is very ghetto. Just down the stairs is a beat up door that is a one man bathroom. Next to do the door was a drinking found which look torn apart and had internal components exposed. I walked around the corner and took a quick photo of the visitor batting cages before going back out to the dugout.
After all the playing had stopped, us tired participants walked back to the diamond club seats and into the diamond club restaurant. The bar was open so I treated myself to a beer and sat down. I could feel the burning in my arms and legs. A buffet style meal had been prepared and it was hot dogs and hamburgers....I was expecting a bit more. We ate, and ate, and ate some more. After eating they took us out on the diamond club patio to do the raffle. Some prizes included a Tim Salmon signed bat, and a Torii Hunter signed jersey. I walked away winning a Jared Weaver signed baseball, which I am excited about. After all the prizes were gone the day was done. My girlfriend had been trying for several days to get a hold of Jose Mota, because for many years she babysat his son and daughter and remains friends with the family. It would have been cool to hang out with him, but unforutnately he didnt come to the stadium till around 3:30 and we didnt want to wait for him. All my goodies in hand I slowly walked back to my car, only to return later that night and watch a great come from behind victory. In my opinion, Robb Q had an excellent game getting some hits and also having some nice defensive plays. I believe its because he didnt want to look bad in front of all the people he had just taught earlier in the morning.
All in all, it was an amazing day for this lifelong angel fan and one I will never forget. Being on the field and getting to be like a player was such an amazing experience, hence why I wanted to share it with fellow angel lovers.
UPDATE: Photos posted in comments section...
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