On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon. He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:
But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim. Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.
You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months. His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!). Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.
On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:
First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game. Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly. I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.
The first goal would not take long. I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.
We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening. A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…
…saw me put on my Mariners jersey. Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball. The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.
Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:
The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly. But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate. We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole. By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field. As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop. Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.
Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.” It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.
Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary. Although he was wearing a Rays hat…
…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary. Very kind, Mr. Miller.
The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us. Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim. Big thanks, sir!
Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put. It was an unusually small BP crowd. But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.
As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us. There were really no fans anywhere around us. When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan. Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.
So, we headed out to section 186. Not too much was going on. We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl. We chatted a bit with Avi. At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…
…it was Juan Cruz. I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong. Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?
Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff. Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.
Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head. I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.
Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field. It was Juan Cruz! I was utterly confused. He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole. He held up a baseball and pointed at us. I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else. Tim was standing directly in front of me. In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face. (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent). He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:
Cruz – “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (confused) What!?
Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”
Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”
Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”
Ah, ha. Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!
Todd – “Oh, okay!”
And then he threw me a strike.
Thanks (and sorry), Juan!
After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.
Wait, there was another highlight during BP. Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:
Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP. At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly). After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us. But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name! “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!” I like it!
After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys. There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.
After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens. Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.
Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez). I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010. He got a kick out of that.
After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs. We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action. It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:
Nice! Thanks, Scott!
It was getting close to play area time. But we hung out for a few more minutes. Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:
There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass. Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!” He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction. But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms. His second toss was on the money.
Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.
That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities. We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP. But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs! It was pretty crazy.
Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game. Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game. But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder. I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010. How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011? Pretty cool, was my thought.
But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.
Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):
And then he played like a mad man:
As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one. Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.
As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…
…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:
Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12. Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.
I mean, check this out:
The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat. She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture. But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.
Here’s an interesting picture:
I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact: my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!). The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before. Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Rays got on the board first in this game. In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.
Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam. And so, we roamed. First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:
Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet. We decided to head out to LF:
Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:
When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note: Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season). In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens. So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:
Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:
We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.
Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:
That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce! Only on his MLB anniversary!
I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim. Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us. But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us. The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi. We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time. I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue. Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench. It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen. The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds. Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen. Shucks!
At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…
…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey). In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.
So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs. I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200! But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it? I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.
But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary! Magic was in the air!
In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!). After he tossed up that baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him. Any chance he can get a baseball too?” Cursi responded in the affirmative. Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.
I was super-excited. Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary? We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen. Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi. “Just two more!”, I reported!
In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…
…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck. Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary. When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck. Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.
Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!
We knew what had to happen. “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!
Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season. The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning. The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:
As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch). I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.
As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening. Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…
…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate. After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put. He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.
The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball. But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires. I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel. It never happened.
As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him. I could not believe it. Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.
First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands. Next, he turned around and spotted Tim. He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!
On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:
I truly could not believe it. Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game. It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.
Mission accomplished, baseball gods!
As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:
And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall. He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…
…and third basemen Russ Canzler:
Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:
When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:
On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:
And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:
It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.
Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…
…and then we called it a night.
It had been an amazing…
…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.
September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
|13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|