And on April 10, 2010, so did Tim and I.
From the back of the “backpack” line, this was our first view into this modern yet classic ballpark:
Tim really matured last season to the point where I feel comfortable arriving early for batting practice. So that is just what we did. We arrived just as the gates opened. But, like the other non-season ticket holders (or people who bought “season” tickets on the secondary market), we were stuck in the CF bleachers and the RF flag plaza until the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30.
Here is a (good of Tim and bad of me) self-portrait as we watch out over the Orioles portion of BP.
We ran around a little on Eutaw Street, but mostly hung out in the CF bleachers before the rest of the stadium opened. But Tim, still at only 4 years (not even 4.5 yet), is still too small for me to feel very comfortable in an active BP homerun zone.
At this point, we’re more of the watch-it-from-down-the-baseline type of guys. So the second the main part of the stadium opened, we headed toward the 3B side. I was hoping to run into newly traded former-Mariner Brandon Morrow, who I wanted to thank for his 3 years or service and wish him good luck in Toronto. But he had pitched the night before and we never even saw him on the field at this game.
One of my goals for this season is to try to get more pictures with players. I’m not a big autograph guy. But I like to get in an autograph line by a dugout and ask for a picture when we get to the front. A Brandon Morrow picture was top priority, but it didn’t work out.
As we circled around home plate, I saw Cito Gaston signing autographs at the home plate end of the Jays’ dugout. We headed over there. But he stopped just as we were about 20 feet away and he started walking toward the the batting cage.
I called out, “CITO!”
And when he spun and looked at us (Tim was up on my shoulders looking cute as a button, no doubt), I pointed to a baseball laying on the ground a couple feet from the Jays’ manager and I asked something to the effect of, “Anyway, my boy can get that ball?” And here is how it played out…
As I called out “CITO!”, we were at the beginning of the red arrow and he was approaching the “O” in “Opening” painted on the grass. The ball was on the ground where pictured. As he approached the ball and it was obvious he was getting the baseball for us, we were standing at the red “X.” One problem, there was a big screen in front of us. So we walked down to the end of the screen and I leaned out and bent my glove arm around the screen in a basket for him to set the ball into. After picking up the ball, he walked about 3 feet toward us and then threw it. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch it leaning over with Tim on my shoulders and my arm bent around the screen, but it all worked out perfectly. And just like that, we were in business for 2010. One baseball.
Often times, Tim wants to go explore after we get a baseball. He likes to leave the rest for other people. But today, he was so excited he yelled, “Let’s try to get another baseball!”
So we headed off toward the group of Jays pitchers down the 3B line in the outfield. I was still looking for Brandon Morrow. As we passed 3B, Edwin Encarnacion…
…was fielding grounders — not fungo grounders, BP hitter grounders. As we passed him, he sat back on his heals and butchered a hot grounder smoked off of the bat of one of his teammates. I shouted out, “Edwin, that ball is no good. We’ll take it!” He threw the ball over toward the bucket and then turned and looked at us. He gave the “hold on a minute” finger, which is always a good sign to get from a MLB player.
A few minutes later, he fielded a ball, turned and fired it to me, and we had our second baseball of the season, and last of BP. It was time to explore.
I have taken a lot of panoramas of Camden Yards — see here — but almost all of them (or better yet, all of them), are from various spots on the right side of the diamond – CF bleachers, 1B foul, behind home plate. Nothing in LF or the 3B line. So that is where we headed.
Tim led the way through the seats in the sections above cross aisle that rings the field level seats at Camden Yards…
Next, it was time for a very, very special treat. He headed out to the concourse and walked behind third base where a stadium attendant took this picture of a very happy father and son team:
Yes! Orioles ice cream helmets at Camden Yards! In case you are new here, read this and this to see why we were so excited. I do not have confirmation that our grassroots campaign had anything to do with getting ice cream helmets at Camden Yards, but my guess is that it did. A lot of really cool people helped me on the mission and I think it was hard for the Orioles to ignore the people. Power to the people!
We enjoyed the spoils of victory from our ice cream seats along the 3B line, right about where Encarnacion tossed us a baseball about 1/2 an hour before.
I wanted to get a special picture to commemorate this special occassion…
…so I brought one helmet from each team at whose home stadium Tim and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an ice cream helmet. I tried to do an ice cream helmet panorama, but it didn’t come out right. So I cut the bottom row of helmets out of the two side pictures and put them along the bottom of what was supposed to be the middle picture in the panorama. Still, I like how it came out
Its a good collection that I look forward to adding onto this season.
All sugared up, it was time for Tim to get some pre-game exercise. Off to the play area…
The wood play fort the Orioles have had for (at least) the past several seasons was gone. So was the pitching station. But the bouncy house was still there and it was joined by a air blowing batting Tee that Tim loved. We went back several times throughout the game for more bouncing and more hitting.
After our first round at the play area, we headed out to RCF and bought tickets for four more Orioles games — including two Mariners games, a Red Sox game, and a White Sox game.
Then it was up several excalators into the upper deck for more exploring and panorama picture taking. Here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 378:
The upper deck seats at Camden Yards really go provide a great view — from anywhere in the park.
We continued to explore by walking around the top row of the stadium from the LF corner to a little passed first base. And I took some action shots along the way.
Is it just me or does it look like Vernon Wells…
By the way, we were around section 350 when we took those shots of Wells. And a little closer to home plate when I captured this ugly swing by Lyle Overbay:
On the way, former Mariner Adam Jones hit this pitch to LCF for the second out in the bottom of the first:
Here was the view from our hot dog seats in Section 310:
We sat up here until the fourth and it was 0-0 at that point. We then went to bounce and hit a little more. While we were gone, the Blue Jays scored the first run of the game (and the winning run) on a bases loaded Hit by Pitch. Interestingly, the O’s intentionally walked Travis Snider to load the bases so they could then serve up a bean-ball to Jose Molina.
After bouncing and hitting, we headed to the flag courtyard where we witnessed the ugliest scene we’ve ever witnessed (close up at least) at a ball game, and definitely the ugliest ever at Camden Yards:
Two groups of drunks got into a huge brawl. There were knuckle-sandwiches handed out left and right, people thrown to the ground, and at least one lady who jumped in to try to break it up got pushed out of the way so more knuckle-sandwiches could be administered.
This fight was by far the lowlight, but all in all, this was the absolute worst crowd I have ever seen at Camden Yards. I attribute it to the game being the first weekend night game of the season. The hooligans in town who probably aren’t real O’s fans came out because of the novelty of baseball being back, and they were loud, rude, obnoxious and drunk. Again, not just these guy. These guys just took it the extra step, which hopefully landed them in the back of a paddywagon…I don’t know because I snapped a couple pictures and then got Tim the heck outta there.
Forced out of our beloved standing room area, we landed in the seats down the 1B line. Excellent seats where we stayed maybe two innings.
Somehow, maybe during the fight or maybe during a bathroom break, the Jays scored again and we missed it again. And, interesting, again it involved an intentional walk to Travis Snider to load the bases for Jose Molina. This time Molina hit an RBI single.
In the seventh, I took this shot of Adam Lind…
In the bottom of the 8th or top of the 9th, we landed here, in some of the best foul ball seats around…
…that’s one of the best action shots I’ve ever got between the hit ball captured in the air, Wieters jumping up to try to snag the ball and throw out the would be base-stealer, the runner advancing, etc., etc.
Before the bottom of the 9th, we got our classic Camden Yards behind home plate photo — taken by a nice usher whose wife just bought my same camera and loves it:
All there was left to do was attempt to get a nice rubbed up baseball from the umpire after the final out, a trick we learned last season from the “The Baseball Collector” himself, Zack Hample. We got 3 umpire balls in 2009 and it is a great way to end a great day at the ballpark.
The home plate umpire was 31-year umpiring veteran, Joe West.
Camden Yards is the most relaxed ballpark in the world. The ushers typically don’t care about anything. But the guy in the bright orange jacket two or three pictures up wouldn’t let us go down and take one of the many, many empty seats all around the umpire tunnel. If he’s let us go down, it was almost a guaranteed umpire ball. But it was a no go, so we decided to head out to RF to watch the bottom of the 9th from there before making our way to our car. But on the way out there, we decided to hit the rest room. And then we decided to fill-up Tim’s water bottle. We were in the outer concourse behind 1B, but none of the water fountains were working. So we kept walking to the next fountain.
Once we finally found a working fountain, we filled up Tim’s water bottle and headed back into the stadium to walk to RF on the inner cross aisle. But, little did we know, we were right back behind home plate again…but on the other side of the umpires tunnel. The usher over there was letting tons of people stand in the aisle, so we stood with them.
Down to the O’s final out, Nolan Reimold hit a towering pop-fly to short stop. That’s exactly the kind of final out you want, something (other than a strike out) that requires the umpire to stay at home plate. We were off with the crack of the bat.
We had to weave in and out of a few fans making their way up the stairs. But we reached the tunnel at the same time as Joe West. He gave baseballs to two little kids on the other side of the tunnel. I asked him if he had one to spare for Tim. He nodded and started to reach toward me. I extended my glove. Then he thought better of himself, denied my glove, reached high and gave it directly to Tim. An excellent move by Mr. West. That’s what 31-years experience will do for a guy.
Thank you, Joe West!
And thank you to the nice family whose daughter captured our post game celebration, complete with “Woody” from Toy Story:
On a final sad note, my normal “gamer” green cargo shorts are going to have to be retired. As you can see in that last picture, they tore wide open exposing the inside of my right front pocket to the world. This leave me in quite a bind as I have to decide upon a replacement pair by next weekend. These shorts have been my main game shorts (and bowling shorts) since 2007. They will be missed.
2010 Fan Stats:
2 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays)
1 Ice Cream Helmet (Orioles)
3 Baseballs (2 Blue Jays, 1 Umpire)
1 Stadium (Camden Yards)