When I was a kid, my family would arrive at the Kingdome for a night game at 4;30, before the gates even opened. We’d try (with low to moderate success) to catch balls during BP. After the game, we’d watch the players walk to their cars. It made for a long day at the ballpark. Tim can’t hack such a long day, so he’s attended very little batting practice in his life so far. However, on May 4th, my folks agreed to bring Tim to the game at game-time and let me go early for BP. It was great fun.
I started out by parking over by the Seattle center, grabbing a bite to eat at Dick’s on Queen Ann, and walking to Safeco Field. I arrived at Safeco Field before the gates opened and decided to enter through the Center Field Gate. Waiting to get in, I took these two pictures, which show (i) the closed roof from Occidental & Royal Brougham and (ii) the play area in CF sticking out over the street and toward the train tracks:
Tim loves that play area!
Going to BP was great. I can’t wait until Tim has the endurance to do BP for weekend games. I knew the Kingdome like the back of my hand. But I moved to the east coast a month and a half before Safeco Field opened. I’d only sat in two different seating areas and I’d never had a good opportunity to just explore it. Today was the day. But first, BP.
In CF, you get your ticket scanned and enter the park before they check your backpack. My ticket taker took my ticket early and I went in to get my backpack checked. They told me I’d have to wait until a horn sounded to signify that people can enter the stadium. Everyone else was still outside of the gate, so I had a 20-30 foot head start on everyone. When the horn sounded, I ran inside to see if I could find any “easter eggs” in the RF seats. I was the first person into the stadium but others came quick. There was one ball already in the stands but it was all the way on the other end of the RF seats and some other guy got to it first. So I picked up spot and watched some BP. About 30 second later, the first HR was hit of BP and I literally had to move only 1 foot to catch it on the fly. Here is the ball:
This is a camera phone picture I sent to my wife. Its taken exactly where I caught the ball. The ball was hit by a right handed Mariner in the final cycle of Mariners BP. M’s BP was finished a few minutes later. After catching the ball and taking this picture, I turned around to see this:
He was fixing the seat. I then went around to the 3B line because the Rangers had taken the field and were playing catch by their dugout and in LF.
In the top left, Omar Visquel is playing catch in front of the visitors dugout. I’m hoping little O makes the Hall of Fame. The guy is a stud at SS. In the bottom left, the pitchers are playing catch. To the right, the pitchers are doing some running. Frank “Throw Me a Chair” Francisco (isn’t he the chair thrower?) kept telling “Every day” Eddie Guardado to say “go” to start the pitcher race and a couple other pitchers kept starting when Eddie said “ready, set” and it seemed to upset Francisco much to the delight of all of the other pitchers. In the top right, you can see the head start one of the pitchers took.
As I stood there, I realized that the CF seats are totally separated from the RF seats and the competition for BP HR balls would be really low. So I headed out there. I didn’t catch any more HRs on a fly, but I got one more ball as a 20-something kid over ran a ball, tipped it backwards and it rolled toward me as I scurried over to the deep-center side of the CF seats (in aisle 3). Here is a picture of both of my balls and where I got them:
In the bottom right, the ball stamped “practice” is the Rangers BP HR ball. The top right picture shows where I snagged it off the ground — all the way down the aisle on the other side of the step. The guy standing behind the pointing girl is the kid who got a glove on it but couldn’t make the play. After I got it, he came and gave me a high five and was disappointed in himself for over running it. The top left shows the view to the plate from where I caught the Mariners BP HR. The bottom left shows the stupid railings in the middle of the aisle. Trying to move down to the bottom row for a ball that didn”t make it into the stands, my left foot got jammed into the space between the railing and the next step and I almost broke my wrist bracing for the fall.
While watching BP, I was entertained by a attendant giving balls to little kids:
See the space between the outfield wall and the stands? Tons of balls landed down there. Each time, another attendant went between the walls and grabbed the ball and then gave it to the guy in the pictures above. Each time he got a ball, he stood around looking for just the right kid. Once he found him or her, he tossed the ball to the kid. And without fail, the kid did not say thank you. Each time, the attendant said, “Yo!? What do you say?” Without fail, NO ONE said thank you until he had “Yo’d” them at least 2-3 times. Ah, kids!
Next, it was time to explore. I went all around the field and took tons of pictures for panoramic views. Here is the view from Section 190, Row 12, Seats 11-12 (our alleged seats for this game):
Here is the view from the last seat in the back row of the deepest-center part of the CF upper deck seats:
Here is the view looking straight down from the upper deck down to section 108 in RF (where we sat the previous day):
Pretty scary! Here is the view from the 300 level behind the RF foul pole:
Then I turned around and took some banner shots:
Next, RF foul territory:
Next, I took a picture in the concourse and one back in the stadium:
To the left, its the ad for the “Mojo Meal” – a major dog, chips and a soft drink for $5.00 (1/2 price). Its a special for family 1/2 price days. To the top right, is a picture as I approached the stadium. Its shows Qwest Field in the foreground and Safeco Field in the background. Below it is a picture looking through Safeco Field toward Qwest Field.
Next, I headed to the last row of the upper deck straight behind home plate:
Then another on the 3B side:
Then, I went to the last seat in the last row of the upper deck in LF foul territory:
When I was up there, I noticed that Felix was warming up in the M’s bullpen. So I headed down to the bullpen standing room area:
I also found the Moose and got a picture with him:
Finally, it was about time for the game to start. Tim and my folks showed up and met me by the little boy fountain that Tim loves so much:
Tim and I had tickets in the CF bleachers (cheap!!), but there was hardly anyone at the game. So we ended up sitting with my folks and their friends Lynn and Steve in Section 118. Here was our view:
During the game, we had the Mojo Meal and the world’s largest ice cream helmet — chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheese cake:
On the way to get the ice cream, I took a photo of some license plate art on the wall of the concourse behind 1B:
And the Safeco Field Code of Conduct:
Then I took some action shots of Yuni Betancourt popping out and Franklin Gutierrez taking a pitch (the ball is circled in red in both pictures):
Finally, since I was using this game to really get to know Safeco Field, I figured I’d try for a picture of a Safeco Field fixture. In the picture to the left below, you can see a guy holding a big piece of cardboard. That is “Beltre Guy” as I call him, he probably has an actual name, but I don’t know it. He stands up every time Beltre comes to the plate with a huge cardboard cut out of Beltre’s head. Once I attended a game with Paul where Beltre Guy had a 3 foot tall Beltre bobblehead sitting in the seat next to him. Beltre ended up giving Beltre Guy his bat during that game. Anyway, Tim and I approached him during the 7th inning stretch. As he stood with his arm around Mrs. Beltre Guy, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, Beltre Guy. We live in Pennsylvania and see you on TV all the time. Could we get our picture with you?”
I think we might have been the first people to ever ask him this. His face was priceless. He looked stunned and super-excited. Anyway, as you can see to the right below, Beltre Guy delivers big time in this photograph:
As for the game. It was another good one, but another 1-run Mariners loss. Felix wasn’t as effective as normal, but he wasn’t terrible. After falling behind 4-0, we tied it up. But a two run homer put the bad guys up 6-4. The M’s tried their best, but ended up falling just a bit short when Ichiro popped out with the tying run on base to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.
One other important note, with this game Tim has now seen every team in the AL West live. It is the most important division in baseball (clearly!) and it is Tim’s first to see every team.
Once again, no Ken Griffey, Jr. in the line-up. 😦 He was ill for a couple days.
Season Fan Stats:
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
9 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
6 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies and Mets)
3 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 1 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))