After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.
The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m. I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early. The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint. There was full batting practice by both teams.
After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty. A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF. Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…
…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim. He nodded and started walking toward the ball. He had a long walk. At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it. I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett. Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.
Thanks, Jim Lett!
By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.
A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139. There was a group of Nats in RF. They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.
Finally, this happened…
Thanks, unidentified dude!
All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups. He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall. Doh!
The guy was perplexed. What to do!? The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it. Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands. They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.
Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s baseball. Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…
…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd. The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.
As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.
I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium. But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP. The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack. If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!! Just live with your boneheaded move.
Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:
Tim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me. Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab. Oh, well.
When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb. I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son. So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:
Fielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck. One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.
That was the only one that was anywhere near us. Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats. Tim thought it was pretty comical. He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”
At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us. I didn’t even see it land. I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over. He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim. I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!” It was pretty funny. I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.
Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.” Yep, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit. But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:
In addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station. And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly). It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front. A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line. On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.
Tim was not pleased.
And he shed some big time water works.
Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:
He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.
As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…
We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104. Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:
After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.
On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:
On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):
In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business. The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth. Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:
Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun. Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:
As we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River. I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory. Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.
On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse. For some reason, we’d never been on this level before. We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…
Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…
Next, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship. The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it. So we took an elevator up to the top deck. Check out who was in our elevator:
It was Jake the Hoya. Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there. He was too scared to get a picture with Jake. Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.
On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.
That made the score 7-2 Nationals.
Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!
Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:
Tim wanted to hit again. But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing. So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:
We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire. So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:
As we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground. I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games. I was right. We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.
There was a 30 minute break between games. Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:
Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:
We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat. But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.
We decided to go to the kids play area one more time. On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:
And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:
After some playing, we reported to our section new section. I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.
So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:
Game two was a good one. It was tied 1-1 for a long time. The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1. T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.
Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:
When they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer. It was really cool. Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”
We stayed in our seats until the end of the game. When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:
And that was it. Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.
Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:
2011 C&S Fan Stats
4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
4/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)
2/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training