This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia. Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.
The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks. But the boys and I had Phillies tickets. The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.
We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m. Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.
We made it to the LF gate…
…in plenty of time. In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35. We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.
Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports. But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule. They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game. But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.
The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining. Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.
The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…
…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast). Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.
Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too. That concerned the Phillies too.
When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:
No BP. Sad.
But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch. There was only a small gathering of fans out there. I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd. There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.
See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?
Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys. We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP. To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium. Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain. But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.
Thanks, Carlos! And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!
Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend. I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening. So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…
…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt? Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear. She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).
Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:
And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:
I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear. But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.
Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone. One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:
Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout. There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us. And that means that Harrison got snubbed. Sorry, Harrison!
Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:
I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too. They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.
Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…
…toward the RF seats.
The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens. That’s where we met up again with Harrison:
I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen. In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence. When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.
But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…
…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen. It was right behind the home plates . It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.
Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.
Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had thrown? Well, it was still there. There was no one on the field. We just sat around chatting awhile.
Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track. When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball. The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:
It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison. I was happy for him.
But then Harrison started walking closer to RF. “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.
See the girl in the red shirt above? That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF. Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball. I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.
But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row. And guess who got it in the scramble?
Not Harrison. Darn.
So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen. Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan. Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:
That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food. It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined. Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.
It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF. The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102. It was raining. We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…
…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation. This is what was happening on the field:
It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.
When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:
We just kept sitting and chatting. The stadium started filling up a lot more. Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…
…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing. Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.
We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:
I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her. It was pretty hilarious. Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.
At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:
They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp. I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast. Kellan was ready for some Major League action:
When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen. It was like a chess match with the young girl. It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:
It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it. A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.
The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field. The Phillies never made any announcements. Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.
Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night. They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night. Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:
When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store. On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…
… and a panorama from the back of the section:
The boys had fun playing around in the team store:
I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff. And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:
It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time. We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours. Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain. It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.
The boys and I started to head toward the exits. As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen. I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night. But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most. By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:
I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway. As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed. We hung out for a minute. And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:
We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more. After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked? That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.
We waved him down and…
…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.
Holy cow. I couldn’t believe it.
The ball was SOAK and HEAVY. Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:
And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below. I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy. He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.
By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.
And with that, we called it a night. On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.” Tim was all for it. We didn’t have any other plans.
So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.
There was a 1 o’clock game. Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.
We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work. But it was completely different with Phillies. I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats. I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield. They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office. So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.
Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking. When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits. Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:
It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.
We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103. I was pretty excited about that. We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.
We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened. Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.
We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:
They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:
But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.
When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:
Check out all of the activity on the field:
So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:
Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!
Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…
…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.
When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim. Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…
…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands. Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.
Double thanks, Jesus!
We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…
…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.
Then we played a few games…
…and collected a few game stamps.
We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:
Check out our AWESOME front for seats:
The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own. So we were packed in like sardines down there.
But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:
Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet. I very seldom agree, but I did at this game. And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:
Those pictures don’t do it justice. Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream. While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.
The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd. Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs. I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:
I did, however, get an action show of Tim:
Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:
The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:
Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double. Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.
Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:
There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…
…and be right on top of the action.
While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence. This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:
Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back. Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles. The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF. Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…
…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies. Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom
Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place. We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks. But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game. So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:
Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.
After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:
If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize. Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right. And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.
Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…
and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:
The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty. We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats. It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.
Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double. That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.
Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them. You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge). Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.
Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:
Row 6 is only four seats across. I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).
The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge. The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…
…screaming through the megaphone.
A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:
It was pretty hilarious. From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field. The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.
The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead. Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”
The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh. The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B. However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored. He hopped to his feet and shouted:
TIM: “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”
TODD: “No, they didn’t. Ruiz stopped at third.”
TIM: “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”
It was pretty hilarious. And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case. It was really amazing. I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times. AT LEAST!
At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.
And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball. And that resulted in another cool moment. Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob. I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him. But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch. It was pretty awesome!
Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:
Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!
Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:
During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:
Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader. So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day. Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.
Phillies win 7-4:
As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!” Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.
Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|