Our new son Kellan’s due date was July 18th. The closest major league ball park to our home is about 70 miles away. Obviously, I didn’t want to miss Kellan’s birth. Therefore, we scheduled zero MLB games for July 2010.
But you know what? My mom ended up coming on July 2nd to help us and to be with Tim when Kellan was born. My dad joined us the day after Kellan was born and was also great to have around. But my mom ended up spending the entire month of July with us and she was amazing.
Although it was impossible to thank her enough, we figured we needed to try. And, like us, she’s a big baseball fan. We decided we should take her to Camden Yards for her first time.
We arrived early and hung out with the Camden Yards regulars outside the CF gate…
With the tickets in hand and time to spare before the gates opened, we decided to walk around the stadium so my mom could check the place out.
My mom liked the party area in CF…
Outside the 3B side of the stadium, we stopped on a patch of grass so Tim and I could play a little catch:
We got a few pictures of my mom and Tim in Schaefer Circle. Here are the best parts of those pictures combined together:
The Warehouse ends right at the CF gate. But on the RF side, the warehouse runs another 100-200 feet passed the RF gate. So fans don’t have to walk all the way around the warehouse to get to the RF gate, there is a passage…
The tickets Avi helped us buy included the magic phrase — “Season Ticket Plan” — that allowed us to get into the main stadium right when the gates opened. Without those words on our tickets, we’d have to stay out in RF for the first half hour of BP.
The early access paid off quick. As we approached home plate, we saw probable 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven signing an autograph. We ran over and chatted him up and then got this picture:
Bert was pretty cool. He asked Tim if he was a Mariners fan. I noticed Bert’s BEAUTIFUL Twins world series ring. I complimented him on it. He held it up for Tim, “do you think you’ll get one of these some day?” I mentioned that if he does, hopefully it will say “Mariners” on it. Bert held it up for Tim again, “This is a Mariners ring, it has a big ‘M’ on it!”
Hopefully some day I will get to see an actual Mariners world series ring.
After Bert took off, we turned around and watched the field.
Despite what it looks like in the following picture, the O’s were still hitting and this was our view:
Speaking of Jims, we also got a big “hello” and wave from slugger Jim Thome who was waiting to get into the batting cage.
As the Twins prepared to start hitting, we headed down the LF line. We had plans, we were hoping to quickly get our hands on a nice Target Field commemorative baseball and then head to the Camden Club for a nice dinner.
We weren’t the only people in the northeastern portion of the United States hoping to snag a Target Field baseball. Our Citi Field friends, Joe Faraguna and Alex K, were in the house, as well as some other guys from MyGameBalls.com (including new 1000 baseball man, Greg Barasch — congrats, Greg, it was nice meeting you).
My mom snapped this picture of me and Alex…
…because Alex joined an exclusive club — he joined Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohonek as the second member of MLBlogs/MyGameBalls.com whom Tim and I have run into at three different stadiums in three different states. By the way, we first met Alex at U.S. Cellular Field and we have run into each other twice at Citi Field.
After this big Twins reliever…
…Jose Mijares finished playing catch, he pointed at us (Tim was on my shoulders) from about 150 feet out in LCF. I pointed at myself, “Us?”, I still couldn’t tell if he really meant us. He then threw the ball directly to the guy next to us. I could have easily caught it, but it would have looked like I was totally reaching in front of and robbing the guy (an adult without a kid). So I let it go.
But Mijares was having none of it. He pointed a big forceful finger at the guy — POINT, POINT! — and then he pointed his big finger up at Tim — POINT, POINT!
The meaning was clear: “that ball is for that little kid, dude, give it to him now!!!”
The guy couldn’t disobey Mijares’ finger:
It was a beautiful commemorative baseball.
After I visited LF to grab a look at Alex’s roster (confirming the ball giver was Mijares) and watching some out of control guy absolutely mug Joe on a BP homer (LF is definitely no place for Tim quite yet), we headed toward the Camden Club.
As we passed by first base, I saw Orlando Hudson taking grounders at 2B:
Unless you are a “member,” you cannot make reservations at the Camden Club. You can still eat there, you just can’t reserve a spot. Nevertheless, I was happy that we were able to grab what appeared to be the last table with a window:
Top Right – my mom had the “Bases Loaded,” which includes crab soup, a mini-Boog’s BBQ sandwich, a mini-crab cake, and a slider. I talked her into it because Maryland is famous for its crabs and she likes the little suckers. She loved the meal.
Bottom Left – I had a tasty bison burger with fries.
By the time we finished eating, Denard Span had led off the game for the Twins:
After Joe Mauer doubled and Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer walked, the Twins won the game in the top of the first inning on a 3-run double by Delmon Young.
Pavano would shut the O’s down in the first. And, for the rest of the game too for that matter. He was just as impressive as he was on Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia.
The Twins featured some unimpressive play as well. Specifically Nick Punto’s base running blunder in the top of the second inning. After singling to start the inning, Punto was still on first with one out when Denard Span flew out routinely to centerfielder (and former Mariner) Adam Jones.
The usual rule is to go half way on such a fly out. But, perhaps, Punto was feeling unusual. He decided to go all the way to 2B and then wait on the bag for Jones to catch the ball. It was almost as if he was tagging up to run back to first. It did not work out so well.
He was doubled off with massive ease. Here is Nick with egg on his face after his huge blunder:
In the third, I tried to get a picture of Orlando Hudson connecting for a base hit…
In the middle of the third, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area, which had been revamped since our last game in Baltmore.
This batting tee cage was new:
The old and trusty bouncy house, however, was still there and going strong:
Carl Pavano was still dealing…
Despite a tray full of sweets in his lap, Tim was tuned into the game:
When we headed back to our seats, we tracked down the Bird so Tim could give him five:
When we got back to our seats, my mom explained that J.J. Hardy had led off the seventh with a single and then should have been thrown out going back to first base. The replays quite clearly showed that Hardy was out going back to first, but that wasn’t how first base umpire Gary Darling saw it.
The eruption we’d heard from the restroom was Ty Wigginton and the crowd going crazy when Hardy was called safe. Wigginton was tossed from the game.
After Hardy scored the 5th Twins run of the night on a single by Drew Butera, the crowd went crazy. As the teams changed sides, someone was jawing in the O’s dugout Home plate umpire Bill Hohn was having none of it. He yelled at the folks in the dugout.
O’s manager Juan Samuel then stormed out of the dugout…
Jason Kubel couldn’t help the Twins tack on any more runs…
It was time for the seventh inning stretch. We all stood to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” I looked up at the big screen, and Tim and I were front and center on the screen. I took this shot…
It must have been in the 8th inning when this 15-seconds-of-fame seeking fan ran onto the field and spent a while there…
…he ran back-and-forth and back-and-forth. He jumped into the crowd and then came back. It was the longest fan on the field run I have ever witnessed. Eventually he stopped running after the still incredibly angry home plate umpire Bill Hohn came out to yell at the kid. The kid was eventually apprehended.
It kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the game.
Tim had to relax on Grandma’s lap:
We had an unbeatable view of the ninth inning match-up beteen Pavano and Miguel Tejada…
Several batters later, Jake Fox grounded out to 3B for the final out of the inning.
Tim hopped up and hung his open-gloved arm over the wall into the umpire tunnel. We were hoping that Bill Hohn would find the bottom of Tim’s glove. But it was a crazy and tense scene behind home plate.
First, the grounds crew couldn’t get the gate opened up to the umpires’ tunnel. So all four umps had to stand there waiting. A couple fans had some choice words for Mr. Hohn. He was not a happy camper and had some choice words of his own for the unruly fans.
A couple seconds later, Hohn became the angriest person to ever give Tim a baseball at a MLB game…
Before heading toward the car, we got a picture of the three of us behind home plate:
It was a great night at the ballpark and a fun way to say “thanks” to my mom and Tim’s grandma for helping out so much as we prepared for Kellan’s birth and then as we started adjusting to being a family of four.
Thanks, Ma! Thanks, Grandma!
2010 Fan Stats:
16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
15 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
38 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 6 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins)
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)
12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
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, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)