Now, I realize that the title of this entry looks a little risque. But I assure you it it not. Read on and eventually you’ll see what its all about.
On October 4 – the final day of the regular season (for everyone except the Twins and Tigers), Tim and I headed down to Camden Yards for our final game of what has been an outstanding 2009 season.
It was sad to think it was all coming to an end, already. As we drove south, there was evidence of the end of baseball. The “This Is Birdland” billboard off of Route 83 in York, PA — gone. It has been there all season. Worse yet, the Birdland billboards in Baltimore itself were also gone. Finally, all season every street in downtown Baltimore had been adorned with numerous Orioles lamp-top signs. All gone. Sad.
So, here we were in Baltimore, closing out our in-person baseball season on the final Sunday of the season in the same place we had opened our in-person baseball season back in April on the first Sunday of the 2009 season.
Tim and I have seen a lot of great things and created a lot of great memories this season. I was ready for one more day of it, but wishing there would be more.
Our first peak down Eutaw Street revealed some stadium attendants readying this beautiful baseball venue for one more hoorah before the off-season:
We arrived early for batting practice. But when we arrived I figured out that I had mistakenly thought it was a 1:05 start. In fact, it was a 1:35 start and the stadium wasn’t even open yet. So we had some time to kill before the gates opened at 11:35.
No problem. Every time we’d visited Baltimore this season, I’d wanted to get a picture of Tim with the Babe Ruth statue. Now, we finally had some free time to do so:
Notice how there is no “8” in the bottom right picture? About a month or two ago, four teenagers decided it would be a great idea to steal Ripken’s “8.” It was all caught on camera and they were caught red-handed a short time after taking the “8.” I was surprised it still had not beeen restored to its normal spot.
In my pictures this season, I’ve shown a lot of views of the warehouse from the field area. It looks like a long brick building from there. But you can’t tell how deep of a building it is. So, I took this picture from outside the CF gate that shows the warehouse isn’t very wide:
When they finally let us into the stadium, we found there was no BP. I guess it wasn’t a huge shock. It was a Sunday day game and the last game of the season and both teams were long since eliminated. But, still, I thought they might hit just because it would make the fans happy. No dice.
Despite no BP, they still had the stadium closed off except for season ticket holders who were free to go into the stadium to not watch BP:
Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium. Tim hopped up on my shoulders and we walked the main field level aisle to take in the scenes of Camden Yards. Here is our view as we approached home plate:
…the guy closest to us in the picture above to the left is Brandon Leauge. Tim and I walked up to the railing and Tim yelled, “HI, ICHIRO! Can I have that baseball?” I explained that League wasn’t Ichiro. Tim asked where Ichiro was. Not here, unfortunately.
A few minutes later, Jeremy Accardo (pictured above to the right) walked by on his way to the dugout. He walked up to us and pulled a ball out of his back pocket and handed it to Tim.
Then he proceeded down the baseline and started signing autographs by the end of the Jays’ bullpen. With ball still in hand, Tim followed Accardo all the way down the line. I followed along and grabbed a sharpie out of my backpack. I told Tim to get up to the front of the group and ask Accardo to sign the ball he’d just given Tim. Tim got up to the front and set the ball and sharpie on the top of the fence and then he uttered one of his funniest lines of the season:
“Excuse me, can you scribble on my ball?”
Accardo and the entire group of autograph seekers broke into laugher. Accardo scribbled on Tim’s ball.
Then we headed to the kids’ play area. First, Tim heated up the gun on the kids’ speed pitch:
…usually the bouncy house is packed. But it was only Tim and that little girl for a while. No one was in line so they got to bounce for a long time. Eventually, the girl grabbed onto Tim’s leg and took him down like a freestyle wrestler. Tim fell to the ground and complained to his tormentor:
“Don’t play with me. I’m not a toy!”
As game time approached, we headed back to the field and watched the grounds crew chalk the batters box:
Finally, it was game time and we headed to our seats. We were right on the railing by the batters eye. Check out all of the grass they’ve transplanted from the batters eye area to fix grass on the field:
Wow — somehow I put this picture totally out of place. But check out how wide open and empty the concourse was behind 3B…
Back to our seats in CF, I took this action shot of Ricky Romero striking out (I think) Brian Roberts:
…see the red arrow? It is pointing to the seat I’d be sitting in to end our in-person baseball season. See the guy in the seat in front of the red arrowed-seat? After each pitch, he presses a button that flashes up on a little screen a description of the pitch (i.e., 92 M.P.H. fastball).
For the second weekend in a row, we were sitting behind Vernon Wells…
If you’ve been following this blog this season, you know that Camden Yards is the only stadium we’ve ever visited that doesn’t have ice cream helmets. Since early June I’d had an idea and I finally implimented it at this game…
I wanted to do this in late June when we saw the Nationals in Baltimore, but I forgot the helmet at home somehow.
It was pretty cool to be scraffing down a Seattle Mariners ice cream helmet in Baltimore. And, I’m pretty sure that Tim is the only person to have an ice cream helmet in Baltimore this season. That’s pretty cool to say. But, I hope that thousands of people get the joy of eating an ice cream helmet at this classic ballpark next season.
By the way, this was an excellent ice cream helmet. Real strawberry ice cream with chunks of strawberries and sprinkles. Delicious.
After his ice cream helmet, Tim asked to go to his favorite spot, the flag pavillion. On the way, he posed for this picture at the top of section 90:
Tim loves the flag pavillion…
This was our view from over the RF wall…
…we were out toward the CF side because the wall is lower on that side. Down by the RF foul pole, the fence is about a foot taller, it seems, and you have to stand right at the fence to see over it. In CF, you can stand back a little bit and still see the action.
Tim decided that the big diamond shaped pattern on the ground was a baseball field, and the dark corners were bases…
In the picture to the top left, Tim is sitting in the “dugout.” After a few seconds, he yelled “Now batting, Roehner” (fyi, Roehner is Tim’s imaginary pro-baseball player friend). Then he jumped up (top right) and ran toward the home plate corner of the pattern and said, “Yay, I’m up.” It was pretty cute.
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this awesome park, but I realized I’d never taken a panaramic view of the Eutaw Street warehouse. Well, here you go:
Oh, yeah, my man Ken Griffey, Jr. can hit some BOMBS! The one on the left is the only ball to ever hit the warehouse on the fly. (Yes, I’ve included a picture of this before, but who cares, its worth a second, third, or fifteenth picture, so don’t count on this being the last).
Late in the game, we headed behind home plate and hung out in prime foul ball territory — above the main cross aisle. This was our view:
In this picture, Tim is looking down into the main aisle taking rapid fire pictures of people walking by:
Here are a few of my favorite shots Tim took toward the end of the game:
Top left, Tim’s view from his perch on my shoulders (you can see he is looking over my shoulders). Top right, Tim took a shot of some writers in the press box. Bottom right, this cute little fan waved up to Tim as he was taking his rapid fire fan shots (it was hilarious when this picture came up in the sequence of his fan shots). Bottom left, I’m filling up Tim’s travel water cup (actually a baby’s sippy cup) at the water fountain out beyond RF.
Back to our foul ball spot behind the plate, here is a panaramic view:
As the ninth inning approached, I asked Tim if he wanted to go down behind home plate and see if the umpire would give us a ball at the end of the game. Of course, he did. So, we found some great seats in the 8th row off of the umpires’ tunnel. Here was the view:
The game went into the bottom of the 11th inning still tied 3-3. The Blue Jays brought in Brandon League to try to shut down the O’s for one more inning. Big mistake. The first batter got a solid base hit. The second batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt. League fielded it near 1B and *shot put* over the head of the first basemen for an E-1. With runners on first and second and no one out, the third batter laid down another sacrifice bunt. Again, League fielded it. Again, League threw it away. This time he spiked it into the dirt in front of 1B. It went by whoever was covering 1B and squibbed into shallow RF. The lead off batter scored easily from 2B. And that was it. Season over for the O’s and Jays.
And it was “go time” as far as trying to get our final umpire ball (and final ball period) of the 2009 season. One piece of background here. During the 9th or 10th inning, Tim yelled “Umpire can I have a ball?” during a break between half-innings. The umpire looked up at Tim, but had no expression on his face. Still, I thought he had heard Tim.
Now, back to the end of the game. We were in the 8th row on the 1B side of the umpire tunnel. We couldn’t get any lower because there were people in every other row — mostly adults, but a few kids at the very bottom. But right when the third out was recorded about 10,000 kids flooded the first row. I figured there was no chance for us to get an umpire ball in the 8th row.
Triple-A call-up umpire Todd Tichenor walked through the gate and emptied his baseball bags into his umpire’s mask. He had about 6 balls, it seemed. He stopped in the first row and gave them all out to screaming little kids. I figured the deal was done. No umpire ball.
Then Tichenor started walking into the tunnel. He walked directly below us. Tim and I were peering over the brick wall and I said, “Hey, do you have one more ball for my son?” Without looking up, Tichenor stopped directly in front of us. His right hand reached into the bag attached to his right hip and pulled out *the final umpire ball of Camden Yards 2009 season* and lofted it directly up to us.
“THANK YOU, BLUE!”
Tim got all excited when he looked at the baseball and saw the MLB batter logo on the ball. “Daddy, there is a Mariner on my ball!” A few minutes later he would add, “When I was a baby, I didn’t realize there were Mariners on the baseballs.” That gave me a chuckle.
Sadly, we started to make out way out of the stadium for the final time in 2009. Just then, we saw the Oriole’s Bird signing autographs down the 1B line. We made our way to the front of the line and got a high five and a very serious looking picture with the Bird:
As we approached CF, we looked back toward the field. The gates to the OF seats were locked up, and we could see the Bird heading into the umpire’s tunnel for the final time of the 2009 season…
We took one last picture on our way out of Camden Yards:
But wait, when we arrived home, I watched the Mariners beat the Rangers for finish with 85 wins and a grand celebration on the field after the game. It was an awesome end to the Mariners season.
Bring on 2010!
Season Fan Stats:
32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
37 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Umpire, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1, 1 Blue Jays)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Hill, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry, Jeremy Accardo)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
Up Next: Cook & Son’s 2009 Season-In-Review Wrap Up