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A Free Ticket, A Foul Ball and 20 Runs

22 May 2009 2 Comments

I had scheduled a doctor’s appointment specifically for Thursday morning so I would have an excuse to “work from home” – aka attend the Chicago White Sox game after my doctor’s appointment. My doctor’s appointment ended around 11:30 am so I took the train from downtown Chicago to U.S. Cellular Field and arrived at noon.

Pre Game Dining
I had planned to eat lunch at Jimbo’s – the only bar/restaurant within a two block walk of U.S. Cellular Field. But to my dismay the place was boarded up. At first I thought the economy took them down, but then remembered reading an article from 2006 stating that the owner of the building was not going to renew the restaurant’s lease after the 2006 season. Since we ate their last August 8, they must have come to an agreement but I guess not this time.

Instead I ate at the Parkside Café – located at 308 W. 33rd St. This café is similar to any hot dog stand in Chicago except it does not have indoor seating – only outdoor, which makes it only a walkup during lousy weather.

Obtaining Tickets
After eating, I was back at the ballpark at 12:30 pm and had my mind set on a free ticket – even though it was 82 degrees outside, it was still a Thursday afternoon on the Southside. I stood outside the main box office where I have had luck before. Remember, in order to get a free ticket you always have to be willing to offer something. I offered $5 for a $19.50 ticket and $10 for a $40 ticket, but both offers were rejected.

As it approached 12:50 pm, I thought I might have to pay a reasonable price for a ticket. But then, I saw a man handing someone else a ticket and saw no money exchanged. I asked the same guy if he still had an extra (which I knew he did) and he gave me his second extra ticket – $40 face value, 14 rows behind home plate. He also gave me a pass to The Stadium Club.

The Foul Ball
Since I do not like to sit in the sun, I chose to sit in row 28 (14 rows behind my seat) in order to sit in the shade – my Chicago blood has not adjusted to 82 degree sunny days just yet. I sat there for the first four innings and went to the Stadium Club for the 5th inning to check it out (I have not had Stadium Club passes since April 23, 2004).

I got back to Section 129 in the top of the 6th inning and the shade was now covering my seat in row 14. I sat in my “given” seat as Nick Punto came to the plate. On the first pitch to Punto, Nick hit a towering foul ball above our heads. I knew the ball would not land in our section, but did not realize it would fall just two rows back right across the aisle. Based on the fans that were standing to try and catch the ball, I stepped into the aisle and waited for the ricochet (I’m no expert on catching balls at games but I do know a major league pop-up is nearly impossible to catch with a bare hand). It landed on the group as I expected, bounced off another guys hand and caromed towards me. The only risk was that I would not be able to snag the ball with my own bare hands. I did and grabbed my 7th game ball off the bat of Nick Punto (and only the second ball that did not touch the ground first). The other six game balls I got were:

#1: April 13, 1993 (in San Diego): Jay Bell hit a foul ball by first base that hit the ground in our row.
#2: April 18, 1993 (in San Francisco): Matt Williams hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. The ball fell beneath the bleachers so I quickly ran underneath the bleachers to claim the ball.
#3: 1994 (in Oakland): Stan Javier hit a ball that caromed off the façade and I caught the ball on my shoulder.
#4: June 21, 1995 (in Oakland): Craig Paquette hit a home run that fell underneath the Oakland Coliseum bleachers which I ran and found before another fan.
#5: September 12, 1996 (in Montreal): Darren Fletcher hit a foul ball by third base that landed in the aisle and I was able to grab out of a group of hands reaching for the ball.
#6: July 9, 2004 (in San Juan): The Ultimate Sports Wife and I were sitting in the front row by the Pittsburgh Pirates dugout. A ball was foul tipped and rolled over to the wall. I leaned over and picked it up.

The Game
For the third time in the 802 regular season MLB games I have attended, one team scored 20 runs in the game. The irony being that the last time I saw a team score 20 runs, the Twins defeated the White Sox 20-14 on July 6, 2007 (in the first game of a day-night doubleheader) – also at U.S. Cellular Field. The other game occurred on May 6, 2001 when the Cubs defeated the Dodgers 20-1 at Wrigley Field.

Other milestones that were achieved during this game were:
1) First time since July 6, 2007 that either team scored or gave up 20 runs.
2) The 10th time in team history the Twins scored 20 runs.
3) The 13th time in team history the White Sox game up 20 runs.
4) Biggest defeat in White Sox history matching a 19-0 loss in Anaheim during the 2002 season.
5) The White Sox streak of hitting a home run in every home game versus the Twins was snapped. They had done so since the second game of the doubleheader on July 6, 2007.


  • Jake said:

    Hey man you have some pretty interesting techniques of finding free/cheap tickets. I have never heard of actually getting tickets for free like that.

    Anyway, I couldn’t find a contact form on your blog but I actually run a ballpark website that is dedicated to providing guides to each major league stadium with similar information to what you are saying. Would you be interested in contributing? It sounds like you have been to a ton of games and would have some great tips.

    I think if you follow up to my comment I will get an email. Thanks man. Good stuff.

  • Ultimate Sports Fan, Andrew said:

    Hi Jake – I can be reached at ultimatefan@anygame-anywhere.com. What website do you run? Thanks for the comment!

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