Category Archives: fan stories

Fan Stories: 10 Questions for Baseball Washington Nationals Uber-Fan Bruno Caretti (a.k.a. The Rally Mullet)

For the next few weeks, FoulBallz.com will include a series of short interviews with ballhawks and uber-fans of baseball. These fans all agreed to answer 10 simple questions, no pressure, and very little editing. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know these individuals in some capacity through Twitter. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I have.

Next up is Bruno Caretti. He’s best known at “The Rally Mullet-super fan of Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals.” You can follow him on Twitter at @TheRallyMullet or visit his blog at therallymulletblog.wordpress.com.

  1. When did you snag your first ball?

I have gotten a couple batting practice balls but that’s wasn’t my goal. getting a live ball during a game by a batter was my goal. and it was June 18, 2014. Nats vs Astros. I was sitting first row 3rd base line, and low and behold Anthony Rendon was up. He hit a ground ball down the 3rd base foul territory line at Nats Park and I scooped it up off the ground with my glove. It felt he did it on purpose.

  1. What do you think about the extended netting issue?

As much as I think this happens way to often [fans getting hit by foul balls] because fans aren’t paying attention, I do think having extra netting in the ball park is a good idea. Honestly though, if you aren’t paying attention and a ball hits you square in the face then I don’t know what to tell you. Don’t go to games I guess?

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

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Fan Stories: 10 Questions for Baseball Uber-Fan Mike Dies (President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League)

For the next few weeks, FoulBallz.com will include a series of short interviews with ballhawks and uber-fans of baseball. These fans all agreed to answer 10 simple questions, no pressure, and very little editing. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know these individuals in some capacity through Twitter. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I have.

First up is Mike Dies, President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League (www.wabl.org and www.facebook.com/westakronbaseball).

1) When did you snag your first ball? 

After going to many games at an empty Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a kid, and lots of games at Jacobs Field when the Old Stadium closed, my first foul ball came in 1997 at Canal Park in Akron. I was walking in the concourse and caught it on one bounce.

2) What do you think about the extended netting issue?

I am all for it. I would like to see the netting extended to the end of each dugout. I would like MLB to be proactive in protecting the fans before someone is killed by a foul ball at a game. I understand that paying attention is 99.9% of it for the fans but it is not realistic to think that fans will sit and watch baseball for 3+ hours and not let their eyes wander from the action … especially with all of the distractions that the MLB clubs have created in the stadium. Attending baseball games today is nothing like attending games 10-15 years ago.

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

From Royals to Monarchs: Kansas City and Baseball Majestry

Last season I visited Kauffman in Kansas City while at a “real life” work event. During that trip, there were a number of issues I ran into with fans and the park itself. I also revisited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for the third or fourth time.

Kauffman and the Royal (Pain) Fans 2015 to Now

20160617_191523 - CopyIn 2015, Royals fans were horribly rude to me. Arrogant, in fact. I assumed this arrogance was due to the team doing so well. But that doesn’t excuse rudeness.

I sat in the right field seats near the foul pole. The section numbering can be a bit confusing, and I ended up in the wrong seats. The last time that happened to me, the people were very nice, and laughed saying it wasn’t any big deal.

But last season in KC I was literally told I was an idiot as they pointed out my seat—which wasn’t as good as the “View from the Seats” feature led me to believe.

I had enjoyed the Royals HoF museum that season, but that’s about all I enjoyed.

This season, being back in the city again for work, I went to another game. I figured I owed the stadium another look.

This time, I enjoyed it again, getting to see the World Series trophy. The museum was crowded and very warm, but the air of excitement and awe was nice to feel.

At the June 2016 game I bought my Royals tickets and sat in the middle decks. I was under an overhang and in the middle of a row. And I had a great view of the diamond. And the horrible extended netting obstruction.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Seeing the Seawolves: About Jerry Uht Park and Meeting Eric Brookhouser

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We started our family vacation in early July by going to the Erie Seawolves game on July 2. The game, against the Akron Rubberducks, was a night game with fireworks.

I was excited to see the Seawolves. As a devout and lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, my goal in life is to see every team in the Tigers system at least once, and at their home park. Erie was on our way to Toronto for the July 7 game with the Tigers, so we popped in to Jerry Uht Park.

I’d mentioned on Twitter that I’d been attending and I discovered how absolutely phenomenal the Seawolves’ social media machine is. The person managing the team’s Twitter account “liked” and “retweeted” tweets within a few hours.

It was an amazing act that few Major League Baseball teams do. It set the tenor for what would turn out to be one of my best experiences at a Minor League or Major League baseball game.

The park is simple. It’s what one expects from a AA affiliate. No frills and every seat is a great one. But what I did notice was how prominent their signage is regarding the dangers of foul balls. Good for them!

As I usually do, I sit my family in the outfield box seats, some of the safest and closest seats to the field. Those who follow me on Twitter and read my work here are all very much aware of my 20160702_183656feelings regarding these “hero” parents who sit with their kids in the most dangerous areas and snag a foul ball while holding their kid. I practice what I preach.
I’d bought first row seats a bit closer than usual, but still in an area we could easily manage any fouls that came our way.

Once the game started, I began coaching my 9-year-old daughter on the probable locations of foul balls. One can never be too young to understand the dangers of these souvenirs. It is especially fitting since dad runs the only site dedicated to studying and discussing them.

 

Meeting Seawolves Superfan Eric Brookhouser

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

Toronto Blue Jays: Fans Like No Other

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Toronto is a beautiful large city, and their team, the Toronto Blue Jays play in a great park. The city has its fair share of pollution, a haze hovering over the city, but it’s an eclectic mix of pretty much everything and every type of person.

There are unique neighborhoods and great shopping—like along “The Path” in downtown Toronto.

20160707_175918It’s also home, as every Major League Baseball fan knows, to the Blue Jays who play in Rogers Centre.

I love visiting new parks. It gives me a nice idea of the true layout of the park and how likely foul balls are to go into certain sections. A seating chart only shows you where sections are. It doesn’t give you a clear indication of how much foul territory there is or distance from home the dugouts are (the areas to which most foul balls fly).

This trip offered me a first-hand understanding of where fouls go the most, at least in this one game.

Parking and Entering

If you go to Rogers Centre, note there is no central parking of any kind. You’ll need to locate a municipal parking area near the park. There are plenty. The one we parked in was $25 CAN (roughly $20 USD based on current exchange rates) and was about half a block from Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant and Walburgers. It was about a three block walk.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

My Baseball Memories: “Off the Clock”

A FOULBALLZ NETTINGIt has been said before that part of baseball’s appeal is that it doesn’t run according to a clock.  There is artifice, to be sure, in the game – the nine-inning structure is an arbitrary construct, after all – but the artifice does not extend to the competitive duration of any given contest.  There’s always enough time in baseball for your team to come back from a deficit or to cough up a lead.  If you’re favorite football team is down three touchdowns with forty-five seconds left, you can pretty much turn off the TV.  If your baseball team is down five runs going into the bottom of the ninth, well, you might want to keep watching.  And I love that.

I love it because it mimics real life as much as a game can:  in order to do something, you have to do it all the way.  A team that has gotten all but one out hasn’t actually accomplished anything.   One baseball team has to stare down the other and keep staring until the final out is recorded.   There’s no spreading the floor to milk the clock, no faking an injury to use up stoppage time, no kneeling down to force the other team to use their final time out.  I enjoy those sports that operate by the clock, but for me there’s something organic about sports like golf and tennis and especially baseball that require full attention until the final play has been made.

I have to think that part of my love for this facet of baseball came about because I was, at one point, a 75-pound weakling.  That probably needs some explaining.

There were two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of what was supposed to be a six-inning game.  It was the championship game of our regional tournament for 10-year-old All Stars.  In the town where I grew up, the 11-and-12-year-old All Stars were eligible to work their way toward Williamsport and the Little League World Series; the 10-year-olds only competed in regional tournaments.  So, win or lose, this championship game was our final game of the season.  And it was the bottom of the 8th, with two outs, and we were down by one.  I walked to the plate, a short and skinny ten-year-old with spindly arms and goofy sport-specs.  I was an All Star, of course, a center fielder and third baseman with a strong arm and a great batting average, but I can’t say that I inspired fear in the opposition when I strode to the plate that July night.  With a one-run lead and the bases empty, they had to be feeling good about their chances.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

My Baseball Memories: More Than Peanuts and Popcorn

Copyright FoulBallzFor many, food is a big part of life.  We have favorite memories on holidays, and family recipes that are passed from year to year.   Certain beverages and special treats and their connection to baseball are no exception in my mind.  I think that unlike any other sport, the aura of baseball includes what we look forward to eating and drinking on game days, and helps form our memories of how baseball has affected our lives.

Granted, we all have our favorite Super Bowl meal, and we think of the comfort of hot chocolate and coffee at the cold high school football games, but baseball transcends the menu of delicacies that await us at the stadium.  The American tradition of peanuts and popcorn….hot dogs…and my list extends even beyond this normal game fare.

Take beer for example.  In the 1980s and ‘90s when we frequented the Reds games in Cincinnati, my husband and father-in-law had a running gag about the price of beer.  My father-in-law could barely swallow his $3.50 cold one during a game, so outraged by the price.  My husband, never one to avoid the chance to rub a sore wound, bought him a Reds t-shirt the next Christmas and had “Beer.  $5.00 a glass” printed on it.  We had a good laugh at the threat of inflation and baseball, until years later when we all realized the joke was on us after beer prices climbed to a whopping $7.00 in most stadiums!  Yet despite the price, we all agreed that a cold beer at a hot summer game day was worth a million!
And then there are the fans, with no mind of the cost, agreeing to go to baseball games only for the food. My daughter, Katie was dragged her first 10 years to game after game so her older brother could either watch his heroes or try to become one.  She would grimace when we told her we were headed to Riverfront, until we reminded her of the ice cones and other treats that awaited her.  She’d sit through extra innings, without a fuss, as long as she had money in her pocket to stop the next vendor.  We even had birthday parties for her at my son’s Knothole games.  Packing the car with cupcakes, knowing the late July tournament would take the whole day and evening with no chance of a birthday party in the backyard. She’d pass out her cupcakes and the fans would sing “Happy Birthday” to Katie in between games.

I also have a great memory of when my son, Nick, played middle and high school baseball.

 

READ the rest on FOULBALLZ.COM at http://foulballz.com/ballpark-food/more-than-peanuts-and-popcorn/

Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

My Baseball Memories: “That’s the Way it Are”

Adam+Duvall+Cincinnati+Reds+v+Houston+Astros+9jUrurKMl7LlOver the years my husband and I have discovered many life lessons because of baseball.  Our favorite, and the one we refer to more than any others, is one we learned while our son was playing Knothole baseball in northern Kentucky.

It was a normal Saturday afternoon for that time in our lives.  Our son had passionately gathered a team of players, and my husband, a high school and college football player, had reluctantly agreed to coach this team of honor roll students, who were growing up surrounded by the effects of the 1990 Cincinnati World Series win.  My husband had no first hand baseball experience, but plenty of team know-how after years of good, and mostly bad coaching.  He eventually figured that his coaching knowledge of dos and don’ts would aid my son’s dream team.

This day the game progressed as usual.  Both teams were neck and neck, but we knew that fate was on our side.  Lately, despite the fact we were a new team emerging from inexperience and hope that smarts and passion would eventually shine forth, things were going our way.  The Tornados were an “ok” team, and we had confidence that the day was ours.
As one of the most talented players on our team hit a powerful grounder and ran to first and then to second, the ump called him out, despite the obvious safe slide into base.  Parents stood on edge, coaches threw their caps either to the ground or into the air, and our players, in true baseball spirit and with hands on their hips, protested the call.  We all took a deep breath, except for one mom on the other team who felt she was going to take this conflict into her own hands.  She stepped to the line, pointed her finger at our boys, and yelled, “that was called an out…and that’s the way it are!!!”

There was a moment of silence.  And then the honor roll players on my husband’s team stepped up to the plate and returned a sneering yell in symphony:  “That’s the way it ARE?  That’s the way it ARE?  Lady? That’s the way it ARE?”

Horrified by the possibility of a scuffle between players and Mom,…

–By Karen Avery

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

My Baseball Memories: What Ernie Harwell Taught Me about Life

Detroit is rapidly aging with their core and they have added even more guys to the fold over this winter with Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Rodriguez both 30 or over. This club may have opened up another 1 - 2 year winning window here - but will pay a steep financial price for it. The club is around $175 MIL already for total team salary and are right near the MLB Luxury Tax Threshold of $189 MIL.I grew up in what is arguably the most bankrupt major city in the US (morally and financially)—Detroit. Actually living in the city for a while and then just outside of it afforded me the opportunity to go to The Corner multiple times a season. I remember attending games and having to wiggle back and forth to see the entire field. Those obstructed view seats seemed everywhere when I was a kid. Blocked views aside, I got to see some of the greatest Tigers play: Kirk Gibson, Mark “The Bird” Fydrich, Jack Morris, Sweet Lou, Cecil Fielder, and on and on. My most prominent memory was getting to watch The Bird, once. 1977. I was 9. Indeed The Bird was “the Word” in Motown. His odd and unique delivery, the argument over whether or not he spoke to the ball, and all the quirks that came with him. It was a show with him. Baseball doesn’t have many outstanding quirky players like this, instead of headlines watching the wackiness of a great athlete, we get inundated with PED reports, of suspensions as a result of the Biogenesis investigation. Mark was refreshing. He was so awkward. And I actually wanted, for a brief time, to be as odd as him, but at my Little League position of catcher. It was a fleeting thought as my knees and eyes starting going, so it was off to a different sport. RIP Bird.

As much as I enjoyed that one vivid moment and watching him on TV, it wasn’t the best or most important part of my Tigers experience. Not by a long shot. The best part of growing up a Detroit Tigers fan wasn’t the players of that era or the past. I knew the storied history of the Tigers. Ty Cobb, Al Kaline, and Hank Greenberg are just a few; the list goes on and on. It wasn’t the storied history of the franchise. It wasn’t how awesome Tiger Stadium seemed as a kid when I went to games. It wasn’t any of that. It was a voice. A golden voice. A calm voice. THE voice of baseball.

Ernie Harwell.

THE voice of the Tigers. THE voice of MLB. He was ranked 16th by the American Sportscasters Association a few years ago, but he really isn’t that low on the list. Not to those who grew up hearing the man who introduced the start of each season with “The Voice of the Turtle”.

READ the rest on FOULBALLZ.COM at http://foulballz.com/baseball-memories/ernie/ 

Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

My Baseball Memories: A Reluctant Love Affair

My love affair with baseball began with reluctance.

As a high school student with two working parents, I was tasked with transporting my siblings to little league.  My brothers, aged six and ten, were aficionados.  They kept meticulous stats and collected shoeboxes full of cards.  They staged elaborate games in the backyard with multitudes of ghost runners and often only a single fielder.  I, on the other hand, had boyfriends to call and MTV to watch; I wasn’t interested in baseball.

But my brothers had been dragged to all my tennis matches, awards assemblies, and choir concerts, and Mom and Dad felt it was time I returned the favor.  So to baseball I went.

Practices weren’t too bad.  They were only an hour or so, and we were usually late.  5 pm would find us fishing through the laundry for pants or socks that no one had bothered to wash.  I’d usually bring a book and settle into my lawn chair, turning the pages of Pride and Prejudice to the dusty thump, thump, thump of balls hitting mitts.

 

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Ed Comber (VP Of The BBBA/Owner – foulballz.com)  

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