I was really going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to go or not. I mean, when you watch a game on television, you have the play by play, a better view, it is free, and if you have to pee, you don't have to use a urinal next to uncle creepy.
The day of, I decided to finally get the tickets. I wanted good seats, since it has been a good decade plus since I went to a game, so I decided to get some seats on the 3rd base side by the visiting dugout.
I was amazed that Astros tickets were so expensive, I mean - c'mon people. This is the Astros - 3 100+ losing seasons in a row?!?! Oh well, I bit the bullet.
I didn't expect to get any autographs, but JUST IN CASE, I figured I'd whip up a few customs ... who knows when I'll get this chance again!
You have probably seen these posted before, but they are relevant to this story, so here they are again. I decided to go with a 2011 Topps Update style Cespedes rookie, 2009 Topps Donaldson rookie and a 2010 Topps Sonny Gray rookie. Obviously, Cespedes didn't show up until the '12 series, Donaldson not until '10 and Gray was in a team USA uni in '10.
I love making cards that don't exist, so I figured I'd give them a whirl. Oh, and since I'm a big fan of color coordinating my refractors, I did gold-green-gold in a canary material. I call them lime-canary refractors. Part of me wishes Topps made this style of card, because they look amazing in person, but then again - if they did, I wouldn't have made them.
I brought a few blank 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 cards with me as well to get signed, since I didn't have time to make customs of the whole team (that would have taken a LONG time). I figured I could get their autographs and do something crafty with them later.
I also brought other cards as well. To make sure the autos didn't smudge, I did the ol' baby powder trick.
There we were ... at the gates of heaven ....
Oooh, OOooooooOOH!!! BIG BASEBALLS! C'mon, son! Let's pose in front of them. Who knows when we will get this opportunity again!
As we walked in, it was really amazing. I had forgotten how incredible the ballpark could be in person. As we entered the center field area, the players were taking in some batting practice and the crowd was gathered at the edge of the fence, trying to snag a souvenir. The halls were lined with a mural of former Astros legends.
Uhh, dad? Who's Big-e-oh? QUIET SON! I'll tell you later. (He isn't the biggest of baseball fans, and though we have baseball on here quite often, we don't speak much about former Astros players ... though I am a big fan of Biggio!
As we made it down to the third base line, I figured in order to get autographs, we should go down with a small crowd. One of the players came over ... you may have heard of him - Jim Johnson?!?!!?! Well, he signed for a few kids. A few very young kids. Another player came out, and did the same. Argh! Shame on all these men using their children to get autographs! Wait ... that is an idea. Why didn't I think about that?
Well, that didn't work out for me. My son is very shy, so I decided to try my own method. No one was saying anything at all. It was odd, and kind of quiet. Kind of like the fans were in the presence of greatness and they didn't want to be loud or crazy.
As Fernando Abad was signing, I just stuck my hands out "Hi! Could you please sign my card? All I have is a blank one." He took the bait! He signed! My first in person autograph at a game.
Then, Jesse Chavez came up and started signing. My method worked last time, so lets try again. He did. Yeah! Another.
Finally, Craig Gentry came up. He started signing. He didn't seem to look like he wanted to. He kind of huffed and said "Okay, two more." So I put my arms out and gave him my same line. He hesitated, then seemed to almost reluctantly take the card and sharpie to sign. I don't have any ill feelings toward the guy. I may have read him wrong, or he may have been having a bad day. In any event - In yo' face, 5 year old next to me! Oh, he signed for you too? Never mind then. Good for you!
I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I'll figure out something.
Next, we decided to get some food. $4.50 for waters, seriously? $300 for a hot dog? Okay, maybe $300 is an exaggeration, but the prices were stupid high. Nevertheless, we got 2 dogs, a pretzel and 2 waters. I mean, how can you not - it is a baseball game!
I saw a Nolan Ryan brisket sausage dog, so of course I had to try it. Not the best I had ever had. As a matter of fact, from the 5th to 7th innings, I wished I had some of this:
Yeah, I wasn't feeling too swell. That is okay though. It was Jason Castro bobblehead night and we got three of them! We are down to two now, as I put one up on ebay and sold it already.
The game was great. Even in between innings, my wife got an Astros shirt from the Astros girls throwing them into the crowd!
We even got a souvenir plush baseball from the folks in the next row. Okay guys, I forgive you for mocking my A's each time they were at bat. (Each time Nick Punto ... who's jersey is #1 was up to bat, one guy would shout POONTOH IS NOMBER WAAANNNNN!!!!).
He also did a number of other things like "COCOCRISP I LAWV YORE CEREAL!!!!!" and "NORRIS NEEDS TO BUY A SHAVER....errrr....RAZOR" He sure did a fantastic two minute straight dance while standing on his chair between innings when the jumbotron was looking to put people on the screen.
Here is a pic of the ball ... and the back of the guy who was sitting in front of us. Thank you for the entertainment, sir!
About the 8th inning or so, the jumbotron was looking for "enemies" (those in A's jerseys) to use their magical graphic handiwork to appear like they are bombing us. They put me up on the screen for quite a long time. My life is complete! Seriously was cool. Someone came up to me at church and said "Hey dude! I saw you on the jumbotron at the game last night!" So yeah ... I'm kind of a big deal now.
We even got *close* to a pop up in foul territory. As I was getting ready to dive, I realized it probably wouldn't be a good idea, with all the hard chairs, concrete, and stuff. I did my due diligence though, and stood up, watching the ball come from what seemed to be a thousand feet in the air. Stretching as far as I could, I was still a good 15 feet short. The ball ended up nestling itself between the seat back and the back of an A's fan. Next to his wife who wasn't looking, and just covering up as if she was about to get hit with a dodge ball.
The game was great fun. It got interesting in the 9th inning though (as all A's games seem to get) when Moss hit a 3 run bomb. Myself and the gentleman who got the foul ball a pitches earlier (also an A's fan) stood up and cheered as two of the only A's fans in our section, yelling as loudly as we could. As we exchanged an uber-awkward long distance high five in front of everyone, I wondered ... is this about to be a comeback win?
Nope. The A's lost :(
That's okay though, it was a blast and we now have several good memories as a family. Oh, and not to mention on the way out, we found the cover of a ball from the game on the ground!
*strokes chin* ... hmmm I wonder what this could be used for? Coming soon to a custom card near you.
As we walked out of the ballpark and back to the crowd, a drunk fella came over and offered me his condolences about the A's losing, and gave me a hand shake and hug. Such a nice embrace from a stranger. My son said "Who is that?" I said "That's Bill. Bill is crazy." My wife said "Dad is joking ... he has no clue who he is." In the background, you could hear him yelling after me "VIDA BLUUUEEEEEEE!!!!"
Really? You couldn't say like ... Dave Stewart? Sonny Gray? Barry Zito? Oh well.
With all that goodness that came our way, I just may have to ensure that it doesn't take us over a decade to get to the next game. It was an absolute blast.