Jon Lester game used ball

In the last blog post, I wrote about my recent visit to Busch Stadium to watch the Cubs vs Cardinals. I wanted a relic from the game since as it was the first game my wife and I had attended together. I checked eBay but couldn’t find anything.

I looked on MLBshop at the Cubs section but they didn’t have anything from that game. I then checked out the Cardinals section and noticed an entry for $39.99 game used baseballs. I clicked on that and it gave me a list of dates from 2018. I found June 15, 2018 on the list and placed my order.

On Saturday, I received an email with the tracking number. I clicked on it to see when it would arrive and it said it had already been delivered. Huh? I opened the door and there sat the ball in a small box. I opened up the box and the ball was encased in a ball cube which was a nice touch.

There was a label on the case that listed the details of the ball. It was from the bottom of the first inning and was the first pitch to Harrison Bader from Jon Lester. At first I thought it meant the first pitch of the game for Lester, but then realized Bader was the second batter that Lester faced. (Matt Carpenter was the first batter.)

I looked up the authentication number online and found more information. It was a 91.3 mph four-seam fastball and was recorded as a ball.

I found a video to the game on YouTube which showed the pitch from Lester to Bader.

As you can see, the pitch was low and in the dirt. The catcher (Contreras) immediately handed it to the umpire and exchanged it for a new ball.

I’m really pumped that I have a game used ball from an actual game I attended. Now if I could figure out how to get Lester to sign it.

Cubs vs Cardinals at Busch Stadium (6/15/2018)

I’ve only seen the Cubs in person twice and both of those were at Wrigley Field. My wife’s birthday was coming up and she mentioned that she wanted to go to St. Louis as we had never been there together. I quickly realized the Cubs were going to be in St. Louis the same weekend and wondered if I could convince her to go to a game. She graciously agreed so I started researching tickets and parking options.

I originally searched on StubHub for tickets but I then found the same tickets about $13 cheaper on TickPick so went that route. As for parking, my first option via SpotHero disappeared as I waited too long. However, I was able to get parking at Stadium East for $30 via iParkIt which is right next to the stadium. I already had purchased a hotel room but it was in Maryland Heights because everything else closer to the stadium was way too expensive or got really crappy reviews.

After grabbing a quick breakfast at Dunkin Donuts in Champaign, we hit the highway. Our first problem out of the gate was Apple Maps was having some sort of outage and could not give us directions. It figures the one day I really need it and it fails. Luckily I was able to use Waze (my preferred mapping/directions app) via audio and it was able to guide us. (I can’t wait till the fall when Apple loosens restrictions on their CarPlay mapping apps with iOS 12!)

We stopped in Effingham, IL to stretch our legs and get some water. Water would be the commodity of the weekend as it was going to be excessively hot and humid. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the area so I knew it would be bad.

We made it to St. Louis a little after noon and visited a book store (Half Price Books) that my wife wanted to see. After that it was on to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. On the way from the parking lot to the restaurant, we had our first encounter with a Cardinals fan. He disliked our Cubs apparel, but we shrugged it off and proceeded inside. Our waitress was great and told us she would take care of us even though we were Cubs fans. (I would hope so if she wanted a good tip!) A customer sitting at the table next to us said: “You guys are brave for wearing those Cubs shirts here!”

After an enjoyable lunch, we headed to our hotel to check-in. The person checking in people made some wise-crack about us being Cubs fans, but then she said she didn’t even follow sports so it wasn’t a big deal. We unloaded our stuff and then headed towards Busch Stadium. Traffic became more insane the closer we got. I disliked how lanes disappeared with no warning or became turn-only lanes. I got stuck in a turn lane on the way to the parking garage and had to go around the block right by Busch Stadium which was slow going. We finally made it into the garage on the second time. The attendant looked at my iParkIt printout and said to show it to the cashier on the way out. By the time the game was over, there was no cashier!

We followed a bunch of people to the stadium, but was unsure which gate to go in. I looked it up on my phone and found that gate 3 would be the closest entrance to our seats. All we saw was gate 4 and realized gate 3 was on the other side of the stadium. We walked around and found gate 3 and stood in line with other people. It was incredibly hot and sweat was coming from every orifice. The gates were scheduled to be opened 2 hours ahead of game time. At 5:15pm, the gates opened and fans started filing in. After going through the metal detectors and getting our tickets scanned, we were finally in the stadium!

Our seats were located in row 1 of section 356 of the terrace level. Before we went up to our seats we stepped into the first level to get a few pictures. Having the St. Louis Arch in the background of about every picture was pretty sweet. We were dying of thirst at this point so we stopped at a vendor to get two bottled waters. $11 please. Ouch! I darn near chugged the thing counting the dollars going down my throat.

We made it up to the third level and took more pictures. As we proceeded to our seats, we were approached by a family of Cubs fans asking if I would take their picture for them. After I took their picture, they graciously took a picture of my wife and I with the Arch in the background. Pretty awesome! It felt good to have some friendly fans in a visiting ballpark.

We descended the steps to our row and found our seats. The view was pretty sweet with just a small railing in between us and sudden death should one fall over it. More pictures were taken including several panoramic shots. I looked down on the field and remembered why I was here in the first place. There were my Cubs right in front of me taking batting practice! There they were, not on TV, not on the radio, not on a baseball card but in real human form! The little kid inside of me was excited as could be. We sat there watching them for awhile as several balls were blasted into the stands. (hopefully a good sign for later in the game!)

Despite it being super hot, we still needed to eat something. We walked around the vendors in our area and found the Gashouse Grill which had good old jumbo hotdogs. I can’t go to a baseball game without a hotdog, so we both got a dog w/fries and a bottle of water. $36! We found a table with an umbrella to eat at, but it wasn’t pointed in the right direction to shade us from the sun. The fries were pretty boring and flavorless, but the hotdog was one of the best I’ve ever had. This was a plain hotdog (no condiments) and was grilled with a little burnt skin on the outside just the way I like it. It was delicious! The lady who sold us the hotdogs whispered to me “Go Cubs!”

After a bathroom break, it was back to our seats. During the National Anthem, we stood up and removed our hats. At the end, we clapped and that’s when I noticed my wife’s hat fall out of her hands. Thankfully it landed on our side of the railing but a Cards fan behind us yelled out “someone almost got a Cubs souvenir!” Whew, crisis averted!

It was finally time to play ball. I was expecting a pitching duel since it was Lester vs Wacha, but that didn’t happen. I was excited when Rizzo got a single in the first inning. He then took off trying to steal second base before the pitcher even threw a pitch. I just knew this would be an easy out but he somehow made it to second and then on to third as Wacha threw the ball away. Sadly he was unable to score in that inning.

The fun started in the third inning when Ian Happ hit a solo HR. The Cubs fans in attendance made their presence felt when that ball left the yard. After an Albert Almora single, Kris Bryant hit a home run to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead! Kris freaking Bryant hit a home run and I got to see it in person! Slump be damned, KB is back! 🙂

The Cubs kept it going in the 4th inning by scoring 2 more runs making it a 5-0 game. St. Louis finally got on the board with a solo home run from Marcell Ozuna in the bottom of the 4th. The game really got out of hand in the top of the fifth inning. Rizzo hit a ball that bounced over the outfield wall but bounced back into play. He didn’t know it at the time and was running hard to second base. The outfielder threw the ball to second base but it was ruled a ground-rule double. Contreras was unintentionally walked and then Schwarber hit a 3-run home run to blow the game wide open. They took Wacha out when it was 8-1 but it didn’t matter. The new pitcher Mike Mayers gave up another three runs to make it 11-1 at the end of the fifth inning!

Matt Carpenter hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make it an 11-2 game. The Cubs scored in the 7th to make it 12-2. The Cardinals added a few more runs but the final score was 13-5 Cubs! The Cubs fans to our left got out their big W flag and waved it at Busch Stadium. That was awesome! The Cubs are 3-0 when I’ve seen them in person. Not too shabby.

Once thing I noticed is that many Cardinals fans left the game early. Sure the game was most likely out of reach but why pay so much to go to a game and then leave half way through? The folks sitting next to me left in the 7th inning and the family behind us shortly after that. I guess since I rarely get to go to a game, it is an event in itself. Win or lose you have to stick it out.

As for Busch Stadium, it’s a really nice stadium. It was easy to navigate, had lots of vendors and the bathrooms were clean. Everyone I came in contact with was friendly even though I was a Cubs fan. The view of the city including the Arch from the stadium is very awesome. Kudos to you St. Louis!

Special thanks goes out to my wife who let me hijack one evening of her birthday weekend to go to the Cubs game. 🙂

Sammy Sosa additions

I was scrolling through Twitter one night and saw that Jon (@CommunityGum) was selling things on Sportlots. I asked him what his username was so I could check out his cards. I looked around on there and discovered he was the one with 2 of the 2013 Topps Archives Sosa cards I needed. He proposed a trade and I sent him my Sportlots page so he could see if there were any cards he wanted.

He picked out a few including a 1983 Donruss Tony Gwynn RC and asked if I would trade them for 6 Sosa cards. 4 of those 6 happened to be 2013 Topps Archives Cubs Season Ticket Holder stamped cards which I don’t think I’ve seen for sale. I agreed to the trade and sent out his cards with a few extra from his posted want list.

The cards I sent him arrived on Friday while the ones he sent me arrived on Saturday. The stamped vs non-stamped cards are identical minus the Cubs Season Ticket Holder stamp on the front of each card. I’m very excited to have them in my collection!

Thank you Jon for the great trade! For more on Jon, check out his website: http://www.communitygum.com/

@CommunityGum order (6 cards)
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs #CUBS-66 Sammy Sosa
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs #CUBS-72 Sammy Sosa
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs Season Ticket Holder #CUBS-10 Sammy Sosa
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs Season Ticket Holder #CUBS-38 Sammy Sosa
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs Season Ticket Holder #CUBS-66 Sammy Sosa
2013 Topps Archives Chicago Cubs Season Ticket Holder #CUBS-72 Sammy Sosa


Sticking with the Sportlots theme, I figured it might be time to order the cards I need on Sportlots vs hoping I get what I want with eBay lots. I had around $15 to spend and ended up with 36 different Sosa cards I needed for my collection. Three of the cards were Topps Micro cards and boy are they small! They are around 1″ x 1 3/8″. I’m not sure how to store them other than keeping them in the folded over sleeve that they arrived in.

Sportlots order (36 cards)
1991 Bowman Base Set #350 Sammy Sosa
1991 Topps Micro #414 Sammy Sosa
1992 Score Base Set #258 Sammy Sosa
1992 Topps Gold Winners #94 Sammy Sosa
1992 Topps Micro #94 Sammy Sosa
1992 Topps Traded #109 Sammy Sosa
1992 Upper Deck Gold Hologram #438 Sammy Sosa
1992 Upper Deck Gold Hologram #723 Sammy Sosa
1993 Donruss Triple Play #151 Sammy Sosa
1993 Score Base Set #143 Sammy Sosa
1993 SP Base Set #89 Sammy Sosa
1993 Studio Base Set #121 Sammy Sosa
1993 Topps Micro #156 Sammy Sosa
1993 Upper Deck Base Set #819 Sammy Sosa|Cubs Checklist
1994 Bowman Bowmans Best Red #70R Sammy Sosa
1994 Donruss Base Set #337 Sammy Sosa
1994 Donruss Special Edition II #57 Sammy Sosa
1994 Donruss Triple Play #78 Sammy Sosa
1994 Leaf Limited #92 Sammy Sosa
1994 Score Select #58 Sammy Sosa
1994 Stadium Club Base Set #80 Sammy Sosa
1994 Topps Base Set #725 Sammy Sosa
1994 Upper Deck Collectors Choice #263 Sammy Sosa
1994 Upper Deck Collectors Choice Silver Signature #263 Sammy Sosa
1995 Finest Base Set #197 Sammy Sosa
1995 Fleer Base Set #424 Sammy Sosa
1995 Kraft Base Set #29 Sammy Sosa
1995 Leaf Base Set #272 Sammy Sosa
1995 Dennys Holograms #26 Sammy Sosa
1995 SP Base Set #35 Sammy Sosa
1995 SP Silver #35 Sammy Sosa
1995 Stadium Club Super Team World Series #174 Sammy Sosa
1995 Stadium Club Super Team World Series #238 Sammy Sosa
1995 Stadium Club Super Team World Series #497 Sammy Sosa
1995 Studio Base Set #78 Sammy Sosa
1995 Upper Deck Collectors Choice SE #85 Sammy Sosa


During another Sportlots order for Rizzo, Happ, and Baez cards, I tacked on 6 new Sosa cards for my collection. The Topps 205 cards are interesting and I hope to pick up more of them in the future.

Sportlots (6 cards)
2003 Topps 205 Polar Bear Exclusive Pose #328 Sammy Sosa
2003 Topps 205 Series 2 #200 Sammy Sosa
2005 Topps Update #1 Sammy Sosa
2007 Topps Update #205 Sammy Sosa
2008 Upper Deck Base Set #398 Sammy Sosa
2008 Upper Deck Spectrum #95 Sammy Sosa


Finally, I found a 2003 Upper Deck Play Ball #14 ‘Slammin’ Sammy Sosa card on eBay that was $0.99 with free shipping in a plain-white envelope (PWE). (I’m not sure how they make any money on these cheap cards with free shipping.)

Total unique Sosa Cards as of 4/21/2018: 278
Visit my Sammy Sosa page for the entire list of cards in my collection