The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Pinellas County

Ok, I may not be Mark Twain, but today’s story of the Phillies baseball game does involve a jumping frog.

Baseball Ross, our visiting friend, B and I managed to snag seats in the front row along the third base side. It was a beautiful sunny day, one of the best in a long while. It was at the beginning of the fourth inning when the Hooters Girl turned and said, “Look! It’s a little frog!”

Everyone turned to look and indeed, there was a little yellow frog poking his head out from between the padding and the concrete retaining wall. When it realized we all were staring at it, it ducked back under the padding. The Hooters girl then poked the padding and that’s when it happened!

The frog jumped and easily leapt a good two feet…right onto B’s hand! She screamed and threw her hands up! I screamed thinking she had done that because a ball was coming with us! The frog then leapt and ended up under the front row. Several people screamed that they didn’t like frogs, but the gentleman on B’s other side and I became very concerned that someone would step on the little guy.

So we tried go get to where we could corral him. Eventually, the gentleman managed to grab him and toss him back on the field…the Hooters girl was not happy with that! She took the opportunity to take a bathroom break and leave the field.

The poor little guy looked traumatized by the ordeal.

20140228-224729.jpg
It was then that Mike the security guy came by and I gave him my cup and Mike got another guard to capture the frog dubbed, “Ryan Hopper” back to the wetlands outside the stadium.

We also learned today that sitting next to the Hooters Girl (when she’s not hiding from a frog) can get you on TV.

20140228-225041.jpg
Can you see us?

Soon after the “Celebrated Jumping Frog” Ryan Hopper was returned to the swamp, we realized we were up 9-3, we decided that since it was B’s final night here in Clearwater we’d take her to the beach and every Phillies fan’s “Mecca” the “Taj Mahal” known as Ryan Howard’s house.

Started over two years ago, Casa de Howard isn’t even nearly done.

20140228-225700.jpg
From the street, it’s vast, three times the size of the surrounding properties.

20140228-225805.jpg
The house is situated on a PUBLIC beach, only a few blocks from a public beach access lot.

The house is a monstrosity and the rumors of a “lazy river” running THROUGH the house are true.

20140228-225951.jpg

You can’t quite see it, but there are concrete bridges crossing the river.

It really was larger than any house I’ve ever seen and from Ross and I just finishing having our little house built last year, let me assure you that Howard’s place isn’t even close to being done.

May be by the time B returns on her next visit, Howard’s house will be completed…..or if it’s like everything else when it comes to construction, may be not.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

For me, it was a pretty darn good day, for the Fighting Phils, not so much.

Let’s take this in reverse order:

The Ugly:
Seeing Kelly Dugan get plunked with the ball during his first plate appearance. It looked like it smarted and with the cold, I’m sure it stung.

20140227-225528.jpg

The Bad:
Ethan Martin was taken out of the game with “shoulder soreness” before even getting an out. He didn’t look like he was feeling good about his shoulder.

20140227-225650.jpg

Finally, The Good:

I’ve been collecting autographs for years and I’ve never managed to assemble an entire starting line-up. This is the closest I’ve come, I only need 3 more. Today, I got Ben Revere.

20140227-225957.jpg
What was really cool was that when I tweeted him to thank him, he favorited my tweet!

Then, after the game, Baseball Ross, B and I went to dinner and when we returned home there was a “broken” FREDDY GALVIS bat! A neighbor of mine was able to get it and he brought it to me, knowing I’d love it. It’s awesome and my very first bat. Next week, we are going to get a case for it. I’ve never gotten to see a big league bat up close, let alone own one! It’s pretty cool and I’m lucky to have such a thoughtful neighbor.

20140227-230721.jpg

20140227-230739.jpg

So tomorrow is the game at Bright House against the Detroit Tigers. It’s B’s last game before returning to Pennsylvania and snow on Sunday. Tomorrow is “physicals day” for minor league players and Saturday is the first workouts.

I’m excited to see the “kids” and will be spending the majority of my time at the Carpenter Complex so if you’re there look for me.

Rain couldn’t dampen our fun

We were lucky when we got out tickets for the game, prime autograph seats.

My program is nearly full.

Talked to new catcher Wil Nieves, he’s a really great guy. He took time to talk to fans and signed a lot.

The best thing to happen was that as it began to sprinkle, Bobby Abreu and Domonic Brown were signing near us. Abreu signed and brown was right behind him. Just as he got to me it started to pour, those huge drops, I pulled the plastic cover back on my program and Brown signed it and pulled the plastic back up before turning and running for cover.

The game was fun as well even if we didn’t win.

Here’s a few shots I took.

20140227-114518.jpg

20140227-114528.jpg

20140227-114535.jpg

20140227-114603.jpg

And the best mascot in baseball was there!

20140227-114634.jpg

Phillies Intra-Squad Game

It was a long day for me. After two hours of sleep (so forgive any errors contained in this post) I drove to Tampa International Airport to pick up a long time Phillies fan, my friend B. We’ve been friends since high school and she’s been planning this for a long time. She left Harrisburg at 2 AM to drive to Philly to grab her 6:30 AM flight. So her day was even longer than mine.

We went straight from the airport to the Carpenter Complex. She was excited because after being there only five minutes, she got her first autograph, Maikel Franco. (Talk about beginners luck!)

From there, we got in line for the FREE intra-squad game. We were lucky enough to snag front row seats in the area most likely for autographs. To continue her beginners luck, who did she get next? CHASE UTLEY and RYNE SANDBERG! Heck it took me several years to get Utley the first time.

All in all, it was a good day for me too. I snagged nine, on a program Ross brought me. I managed to get:

Chase Utley
Ryne Sandberg
Phillipe Aumont
Kelly Dugan
Cody Asche
Darrin Ruf
Ray Berris
Kenny Giles
Kevin Munson

Shown here with labels

20140225-224448.jpg

I will also apologize here that I did not pay enough attention to give you details of the game. Being with a long-time friend will sometimes distract you like that, especially when they are happy when they get their favorite player’s autograph!

I did take some pictures:
Jesse Biddle was the starting pitcher

20140225-224702.jpg

Ryan Howard rounds third after a long-hit homer

20140225-224852.jpg

Kenny Giles brought the heat and struck out two in his second inning

20140225-224941.jpg

And I’ll throw in this picture of Chase Utley because he’s B’s favorite

20140225-225033.jpg

It was a really fun day. Sometimes going with someone who’s so very excited, someone who’s crossing an item off their bucket list really makes you remember why you loved the game in the first place. Seeing a kid next to you nearly cry getting THAT special autograph they’ve always wanted and the only trying that makes them happier is that mom was going to take them to the gift store to get a case for it. Or the teenage boy who flew across a section to get a foul only to give it to an older lady who wasn’t fast enough.

Ahh, my love of baseball is renewed.

One of BEST days…

One of the best things about spring training is the “thrill of the chase”, and I’m not talking Chase Utley! The thrill of the chase is deciding what guy’s autographs you need, finding out what fields they’re on, and praying you time everything right so that you can grab their autograph.

It’s not always easy. I got Jonathan Papelbon the first day, I was in the right place at the right time, that one was easy. Then again, it took me seven years to get Jimmy Rollins autograph! The key is never giving up. You just got to keep trying. One day sometime you’ll likely time at all just so, and get that autograph.

Then there was this little boy, he had been trying for days to get Chase Utley’s autograph. It was the last day of his vacation and he was desperate. So when we were standing off to the side just the two of us, I told the little fella to say, “Mr. Utley, will you please sign my ball?” As the boy leaned over the fence, he called to Utley as I instructed, (and with me pointing frantically to the little guy) Chase stopped and signed. The kid was grinning from ear to ear! It made his trip!

That’s the way it was for me, too, may be the autograph Gods smiled on me for helping the little guy because I finally got Bobby Abreu. For five days I followed him around like a puppy dog not obviously of course, but kept tabs on where he was practicing, in the hopes of catching him in a signing mood. Today I got him between two of the fields between his practice sessions. I said, “Bobby would you sign my ball, pretty please with sugar on top?” So when he signed my ball, he signed it “To Sugar, Bobby Abreu”

20140223-203707.jpg
I thought that was pretty cool. No player has ever personalized anything to me before. It really kind of made my day. But my day only got better from there.

I’ve been recognized as Baseball Betsy before, but today was a first for me. This kind gentleman, whom I met before, actually asked for my autograph! It blew me away that he liked me so much that he would have me sign a ball. I never in my wildest dreams, when I started this blog, thought that anyone would want my autograph. So I signed the ball and took a picture of the two of us. It really made today a special day!

20140223-203934.jpg

Tomorrow’s practice is an abbreviated one as the Phillies have their annual golf outing.