Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry. When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed. Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season. This is the first.
When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner. I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit. And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.
Tim was born in January 2006. I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.” I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day. The opponent would be the Blue Jays.
Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things. I’m not against creating my own holidays. And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t. September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME! This was big. So I fully intended to do it right. And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!
I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation. I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there. I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.
Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea. I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim. Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim. So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.
Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!
So, we weren’t messing around. This was going to be seriously awesome.
I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed. In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats). Here is what they looked like:
Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us. The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…
It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny. Beautiful. Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield. In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…
When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time. The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.
Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.
Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie. Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite:
…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us. Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer. My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”
After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…
We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:
After the group shot, it was time to hit field level. This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…
…any guesses who wore number “47” for the Blue Jays in 2006? Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips. If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.
Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:
Yes, the “First Gamers Club!” I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups” I think both are great. But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people. FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!
By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson. They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.
After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line. He was seeing if he could catch a ball. So, we went down and joined him. Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark:
Until recently, I had no clue who he was. But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”
Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!
After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP. It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home. Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.
We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.
Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above. Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field. Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him. He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life! WOW!!!
A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:
Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did. Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:
The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):
And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:
Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:
Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad. Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.
Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball? Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009). First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above. So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season. I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images. I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).
Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:
At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.
So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”
Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:
Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:
And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:
Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve. Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.
But then, the tiredness kicked in. Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here. First, it was late at night for the boy (9’ish o’clock). Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.
So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:
In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:
It was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.
And before we knew it, the Mariners WON! The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:
I think this game was the start of something beautiful. Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.
By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win. You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.