[NOTE: I uploaded all of the following pictures and wrote this entire entry while we were at the hospital both before and after the birth of my new son (and Tim’s new brother), Kellan].
On June 15, 2010, we woke up early in Anaheim with a long drive to San Francisco ahead of us. On tap this evening we had the grand finale of the The Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010 featuring a match up of the Orioles against the Giants at AT&T Park.
After six consecutive days of baseball games at four different ballparks, I was exhausted. So major respect goes to my Dad who drove the entire way while I fought a losing battle of trying to stay awake in the car.
After stopping off at our hotel in San Jose, we finally made it to the City by the Bay, drove by the Giants’ former home, Candlestick Park (top left below)…
…and finally made it to AT&T Park (top right). We parked across Willie McCovey Cove (bottom right) and right next to a little league sized baseball field called “Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field” (bottom left).
Just across the other side of the Cove, we got some great views of AT&T Park:
As you can see, there is a statute of Juan Marichal in the foreground. To the right, that walk way runs down the outside of the stadium from RF to CF. At the far end of that walkway there is a marina and a pier (we’ll get to that).
Along that walkway, there are spots where you can see into the field through a gate and a chain link fence…
…just above the chain link fence, we could see the back of the hand-operated out of town scoreboard. The gates wouldn’t open for another 20 minutes after we arrived, but the Giants were already taking BP inside.
Rather than watch through the fence, we decided to take a little walk out to the end of the pier:
If you take a left instead of walking out on the pier, you arrive at the centerfield gate…
After checking out the pier and CF gate area, we headed back toward the RF (O’Doul) gate along that walkway by McCovey Cove. Along the walkway, there are a number of plaques embedded into the ground. Here are a whole bunch of them…
Finally, we headed into the stadium. Our seats were in RCF so we headed over there to watch BP. The RF seats at AT&T Park are only 3-5 rows deep. We headed to a section that was 3 rows deep. This was the view:
See those people right in the middle of that last panorama? It looks like three people because of the combining of pictures to make the panorama, but it was really only two guys. One of them was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head…
…I had an idea about who it was so I zoomed in on his shoe. Yep, number 55, it was Tim Lincecum. After I mentioned to Tim that the guy on the field was also named Tim, a Giants fan standing nearby asked me, “Timmy? Where’s Timmy?” I pointed him out and the fan yelled, “Hey, Happy Birthday, Tim!” Lincecum turned around and nodded a little “thank you.”
I was really hoping we could get a baseball at this game so we could complete the roadtrip with at least one baseball at each stadium. It wasn’t looking promising in RF, so we headed over by the Orioles bullpen where this was our view:
The Giants were still hitting, but the Orioles pitchers were warming up down the foul line. When the teams switched, the crowd sung “Happy Birthday” to Lincecum as he entered the Giants dugout.
After a while, Jeremy Guthrie came out to do some throwing…
…that is him facing us toward the left side of the picture. As he walked by us, I said, “Hi, Jeremy.” He gave us a little wave and said hi. Guthrie is a nice guy and was a prime candidate to give Tim a baseball after his throwing.
One funny thing about AT&T Park is that ball retrieving devices were all over the place. At any given time during BP, there were a couple deployed on the OF warning track. At one point, an Orioles player came walking by with a ball retrieving device on about 2 feet of rope. He’d cut it off as someone was going for a ball and was parading around showing it to his teammates.
As Guthrie was wrapping up his throwing, Kevin Millwood came over to chat with him and then Guthrie gave Millwood the baseball to play catch.
With Guthrie out of the picture, we decided to head over to LF to see what it was like over there. On our way up to the concourse, I noticed “Kville” on the wall:
It was starting to get pretty crowded. Our chances of finishing off the roadtrip with a baseball from AT&T Park were getting dimmer and dimmer. Tim asked that guy standing out in LF (above) for a baseball. No dice. Then Tim turned to me and said, “I’ve got a collection of baseballs!” [It doesn’t look very funny written, but his delivery of the line was hilarious].
As we stood along the wall in foul territory we got a rude reminder that the Bay Area is a windy place. A big swirl of wind kicked dirt from the warning track into both of our eyes. We both got hit at once. It was no fun.
As bad as dirt in the eyes is, this is even worse:
The Giants have sold advertising space on their outfield wall that changes the dimensions of the field! I mean, how annoyed would you be as either a fan or a player if someone on your team hit a ball that should have been a home run, but instead it hit one of these cartoon car advertisements that stick above the wall. I’d much rather have a Mariners homerun picked off over the wall by an opposing player than to have it denied by an advertisement!
Finally, we made it full circle. We ended BP back in RCF. Actually, we were right next to our seats for the game.
There was, indeed, no BP baseball in store for us on this day. But that didn’t ruin the hilarious scene that we watched play out during the last 10 minutes of BP in RF.
An Oriole was out there who I can only presume was the same guy walking around with the cut off ball retrieving device. You see, he had a pair of scissors in his back pocket. I’m not sure who he was, but he must have been a former Giant because a guy with a ball retrieving device of his own came over and chatted with him and implied that he was a lot more fun when he played in San Francisco.
The guy hung his device over the wall, which was probably a good 20 feet high, and swung it back-and-forth like he was trying to lure the player over. The Oriole eventually brought a ball over and put it on the warning track for the guy. As the guy attempted to set his device on the ball, the Oriole took out his scissors and acted like he was going to cut the rope. The guy quickly pulled it up without the baseball.
The Oriole acted like it was all fun and games and now he was ready to give him the ball. He set it back down, said something like “go for it,” and headed back out 20-30 feet into the grass. The guy lowered his device again. Then, when he started pulling it back up, the Oriole turned and made a full sprint to the wall, he planted his foot on the wall and jumped REALLY high up the wall and just got a hand on the guy’s device. With one big swing of the paw and a big grin, the Oriole knocked the ball back to the ground.
He then grabbed the ball and went back out 20-30 feet into the grass. The guy with the device stayed put. Five minutes later, BP ended and all of the Orioles ran off of the field. The guy with the ball turned around and held up the ball for the guy with the device. By the way, here is the Oriole (with scissors in back pocket)…
…Then, you guessed it, he fired the ball high and far over the outfield seats and into McCovey Cove. The two kayakers raced for it and this guy victoriously pulled it out of the water. During all of this time, not a single HR reached the RF seats, but this was a good little piece of entertainment for me and Tim.
Once BP wrapped up, Tim wanted to head over to the big bottle and little baseball field in LF…
On our way over there, we stopped to get a picture with a real San Franscisco Trolley that is parked in the RCF concourse:
So, we got in line for this:
Okay, that video is actually the second time we rode the guzzler. The first time, I took this picture from inside the label of the bottle:
While we were waiting in line for the guzzler the second time, Tim started chatting up a 20’ish year old girl who lives in SF but used to live in Seattle. She liked his Mariners hat. When he heard that, he decided to rip off his sweatshirt and dazzle her with his Ichiro shirt. It was pretty funny. He was very proud to be showing off his new Ichiro shirt.
After the guzzler, we went to the mini AT&T Park next to the guzzler…
To play ball in the mini park, you have to be shorter than a certain height. Tim measured up against the height display and wound up being in the special class of people short enough to play ball in the mini park but tall enough to ride the guzzler. My Dad took some action shots with Tim at the plate…
After hitting in mini AT&T Park, it was time to report to our seats for the game…
The sun was pretty harsh in RF at the beginning of the game. Here was our view from Section 145, row 2, seats 1-3 while the sun was still up:
After the first inning, the O’s were leading 1-0 on the strength of a groundout RBI by Ty Wigginton. The O’s could have scored at least one more run, but Giants centerfielder Andres Torres made an outstanding catch to end the inning.
In the top of the third inning, Tim and I set off into the concourse in search of some Giants ice cream helmets. I noticed something odd about the concourses…
…there were several large banks of flat screen TVs literally side-by-side-by-side, but then there wouldn’t be another TV within the next 100-150 down the concourse. So in some places you can stand in the concourse and take your pick of 5-6 TV screens to watch, but in others you are simply out of luck.
Much to our dismay, for the second day in a row, our ice cream helmet hunt came up empty. This has been a truly great roadtrip, except on the ice cream helmet front. After walking around the entire field level concourse, we returned to our seats with this…
From a scoring perspective, the third inning proved to be the most active inning of the night with a grand total of 2 runs crossing the plate. In the top of the inning, the O’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Wigginton replicated his first inning at-bat with another RBI groundout. Leading off the bottom of the frame, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval cranked a solo homer to bring the score to 2-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, former Mariner Adam Jones would match Sandoval with a lead-off homerun of his own taking the score back to a 2-run lead (3-1) for the O’s.
In the of the fifth inning, Ty Wigginton one upped himself. Rather than a mere RBI groundout, Wigginton hit into a run-scoring (no RBI) double play. At the end of five, the O’s lead 4-1, and that score would hold up for the rest of the night.
In the fifth inning, I decided to split up from my Dad and Tim so I could check out the upper deck a little bit.
I started by heading toward foul territory in RF. About mid-way between our seats and the foul pole, I got this panoramic view of AT&T Park:
Here is a zoomed in panorama of the RF wall and the ferris wheel beyond McCovey Cove:
Here is the view from the LF foul area in the upper deck…
After circling around the upper deck, I headed down the winding foot ramp in the LF corner down to the field level. I actually passed my Dad and Tim on my walk down. They were on a tour of their own and were heading up to the upper deck.
I got this picture of the city and Bay Bridge looking out of the stadium from the ramp:
My plan had been to go back to the seats after exploring the upper deck, but because I knew Tim and my Dad were on a tour of their own, I decided to go behind home plate. There were ushers guarding the staircases, but no one was patrolling the handicapped accessible ramp that leads to the cross aisle behind the home plate seats. So I strolled on down the ramp. Here was the night time view from behind home plate:
Nick Markasis cooperated better with me. On this swing…
I decided Tim and my Dad were probably done touring so I headed back to our seats. I was wrong. They weren’t there yet. So I hung out in the standing room area in the concourse behind the RF seats, right by the foul pole.
Check out these two seats in the front row at the end of the section…
…these people were nestled right in between the railing and the foul pole. I guess they had to hop over the seat backs to get into their seats.
By this point, the crowd in the RF standing room area was ridiculous. There were numerous obnoxiously drunk patrons having a grand old time. Several of the drunkards were mocking an usher who was diligently enforcing the “Stand Behind The Line” rule painted on the ground.
Eventually, Tim and my Dad came strolling back toward our seats. We decided to head toward the infield to try to locate the umpire tunnel. We wanted to try for an umpire ball, but we were pretty confused. On the big screen before the game, I had seen the umpires enter through a set of glass doors. It appeared it was right behind home plate. From the OF, we could see the set of glass doors directly behind home plate. But there were fans in seats sitting directly behind the doors. It made no sense. Were the umpires supposed to just walk into the crowd?
We spotted another exit way in the 3B dugout that we thought might be the spot. So Tim and I made our way about half way down the ailse right by the end of the dugout. Here was the view:
I was still thoroughly confused. With 1 out in the bottom of the ninth, my Dad came down from the concourse and said they had just put a rope up around the fans right behind home plate. It looked like I was right, the umpires would go through those glass doors…but where would they go from there?
We scurried over there to the cross ailse behind home plate (no one was manning the ramp once again). As the final out was recorded, we tried to make our way down to the umpires but we couldn’t get down there in time. Too many people were streaming up the stairs. It was unfortunate because the home plate umpire stood back there by the fans for a minute or so until all three of his colleagues met up with him. Then, they exited down a tunnel…
…behind the first several rows of seats. On his way out, the home plate umpire gave a baseball to a grown man with no kids who didn’t even ask for one! We’d missed a prime opportunity to get a baseball at AT&T Park.
Before taking off, we decided to do a little more exploring. Something I didn’t like about AT&T Park was that there were a number of railings keeping the commoners out of the fancier seating areas. Thankfully, however, there was no mote. So we easily stepped over the thigh high railing and made our way down front by the Giants dugout.
The Goal: Get our picture with Tommy Lasorda, who was in attendance and the recipient of robust booing throughout the game when they showed him on the big screen.
We literally rubbed elbows with the Hall of Famer (he’s wearing the brown jacket right in front of me)…
…but he had a team of Giants security people flanking him on all sides. It might have worked, but I didn’t even ask him for a photo because a security guy was announcing “clear the way, clear the way.”
Oh, well. It was cool just to see him up close.
We headed over to the dugout to watch Tommy exit through the same tunnel we’d suspected might have been the umpires tunnel. Before Tommy made his way to the dugout, an usher took a picture of the three of us:
We watched the security guys coach Tommy down the stairs into the dugout and then we just hung out a couple minutes more. Right as we were about to leave, two bat boys came into the dugout to clear out equipment. Some guy, I think the guy to the far left shown below…
…started aggressively begging the bat boys, “Can I have a baseball? Can I have a baseball? Can I have a baseball?” The older bat boy looked up and said, “Sorry, there aren’t any left.” Then the younger looking bat boy standing behind the older bat boy reached into his back pocket and then handed a baseball up to Tim.
It was a case of “Don’t ask and you shall recieve!” It was pretty cool to come away with an AT&T Park baseball at the last possible minute. I was super excited that out of nowhere, that little bat boy helped us complete our goal of getting a ball at each stadium on the roadtrip.
Thanks, little bat boy guy!!!
Another usher took a new picture of us with the ball from the batboy:
By the way, the second the game ended a flock of seemingly hundreds of seagulls flew into the stadium and attacked the food scraps strewn about the seating area in LF. Tim called it “the birds taking off and landing show” and he was thoroughly captivated by it. In fact, in the picture above of Tommy Lasorda squeezing by us in the seats, Tim is up on my shoulders paying no attention to the Hall of Famer, all of his focus was on the birds taking off and landing show.
Finally, it was time to leave. My Dad started to walk up the ailses. But I stopped him. Hey, we’re in the fancy seats, we should exit through the club below the fancy seats (which I think is called the “Lexus Dugout Club”).
Here are a few pictures I snapped in the club as we headed out…
2010 Fan Stats:
15 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
12 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)