On May, 10, 2014, the boys and I pulled off another Little League-to-Major League. We started in the morning with a 9:00 a.m. Liberty Swingmen game featuring Tim’s first career hit by pitch:
It was a beautiful sunny day in eastern PA. After the game, we hopped in the car…
…for a beautiful, sunny drive across Pennsylvania. But just before arriving in Pittsburgh, the weather went south. We arrived in plenty of time for BP and were greeted by a soggy PNC Park:
While it was raining, it wasn’t too bad. There was no BP, but I could tell that the game wouldn’t be rained out. With the help of Erik Jabs, we were able to get into the stadium early with the season ticket holders. For a long, long time we stood by the Cardinals dugout chatting and eating snacks…
…while several Cardinals lounged in the dugout listening to tunes (Jhonny Peralta and Carlos Martinez) or talking on cellphones (Trevor Rosenthal).
Here was our view of the ballpark:
For nearly an hour, we were the only people in the seats. It was pretty cool. During most of this time, we didn’t need an umbrella.
Eventually, the Cardinals pitchers came out to play catch. A few other fans eventually showed up, but it was very sparse out there. Here’s the scene:
Consistent with my past experiences in this section at PNC Park, most of the fans hanging out there were looking for autographs. Is the guy in the sweatshirt with the fungo bat in bottom left photo above? That’s Derek Lilliquist. He tossed Tim our first baseball of the day.
For a while, Tim hung out behind Trevor Rosenthal, who was playing catch with Carlos Martinez. Martinez uncorked several hard and wild ones that almost tagged Tim. In fact, in the upper right photo above, that is Rosenthal (#26) digging a low throw from Martinez. When Rosenthal and Martinez finished throwing, Trevor tossed their warm up ball to Tim.
Michael Wacha did some work in the work in the pen early on, but then came out to the RF foul line to throw some more. That is Wacha standing to Lilliquist’s left in the bottom left photo above. When Wacha finished up, he tossed his warm up ball to Tim and then autographed it for him.
Eventually, Adam Wainwright started signing autographs. When a whole group of fans flocked to him, Tyler Lyons started walking to the dugout. Kellan and I shouted, “Hey, Tyler!” He turned back and tossed a strike right to us.
Then, Tim asked if he could get Wainwright’s autograph too. I had to pull a ball – the Rosenthal ball – out of our backpack and by the time I did, Wainwright was walking away. We was out on the grass across the warning track. I called out his name and asked if he could sign one more for Tim. He said sure and put up his hand to indicate, “Toss it here!” It was pretty clear to me that he wanted to sign for Tim, but not get roped into another big group of fans. So he signed the ball and tossed it and our pen back.
By the way, here are two of those balls (and two cute faces to go with them):
During down time, Tim got creative with selfies:
After the Cardinals pitchers cleared the field, we cleared out of the field level…
…and headed to the kids’ play area:
Where the boys did some playing…
…and I did some birding:
But it was wet in the play area. So we decided to buy two feet of hot dogs for dinner:
Kellan and I shared a footlong…
…fox and the hound style. Meanwhile, this guy…
…finished off 12 inches of hot dog all by himself!
In the PNC Park picnic area behind the CF seats, there are a couple spots that make great make-shift bullpens:
Over the course of the evening, we played a whole lotta catch in this “bullpen.” I would toss the ball 5-10 feet to my left to Kellan. He would then toss the ball down to Tim who would toss it back to me. It was lots of fun.
Of course, the boys were respectful when it came time to sing the National Anthem:
And then it was party time…
…or, I mean, game time. We headed to the SRO area right behind the bullpens…
…to watch the first pitch:
As an added bonus, just before the first pitch, Pirates bullpen catcher, Herbie Andrade, toss us a final pre-game baseball, our first ever from the man who holds the MyGameBalls.com record (by a huge margin) for most toss-ups.
After the first pitch, we returned to our “bullpen” and played catch for a while more. Eventually, we decided it was time to get some ice cream. On our way to the ice cream place, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with the PNC Park pig:
Tim enjoyed some pirates buried treasure while Kellan enjoyed his mint chocolate chip:
While they worked on their ice cream helmets, I enjoyed our excellent seats in LF:
Here is another one featuring a blimp for good measure:
Between innings, the boys made a futile attempt for a left fielder warm-up ball tossup:
Eventually, we decided we should go exploring. After visiting Ralph Kiner’s hands behind the LF seats…
…we started our explorations by walking up with spiral ramp in LF. At the top, this was the view:
Then we visited the first drinking fountain Tim ever used in his life:
Here’s a random panorama from section 327 that I snapped as we circled the upper deck:
Once we made it to home plate, we headed down the other spiral ramp that takes you down to the main home plate entrance. Then we headed out to the kids’ play area, which was experiencing some chaos due to too many kids being out there, including some teens trying to play with the little guys.
So we headed across the riverwalk…
…and went back to our “bullpen” for some more throwing:
That’s where we were in the seventh inning when some fireworks were shot off over the river in conjunction with the seventh inning stretch:
I love the LF seats at PNC Park – they seem so homer friendly – so we headed back there for a bit more. When w2 arrived, a friendly usher took our picture:
Then the boys clowned around…
…while I concentrated on not catching a homerun.
In the ninth inning, we headed toward the third base dugout and found some seats in the last row of the section above the umpire’s tunnel:
As the game neared its final out (by the way, the Pirates were winning 4-3), Tim tried to get in position for a post-game umpire ball, something we’d never before gotten at PNC Park.
We were excited for the opportunity because we were sitting on 599 baseballs at the moment.
It turns out that we were double lucky. After Mark Malancon got Allen Craig to strike out swinging to end the game (Raise the Jolly Roger), home plate umpire Dave Rackley set number 600 into Tim’s glove…and number 601 in Kellan’s glove!
Double thanks, Mr. Rackley!
We capped off a great day of baseball with some post-game fireworks from our “bullpen”:
After one final picture of three happy boys…
…we headed to our car and the boys conked out quick…
…while I drove us back across Pennsylvania.
|2014 Fan Stats|
|9||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Orioles, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals)|
|5||Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Camden Yards, PNC Park)|
|43||Baseballs (6 Mets, 2* Expos, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 4 Umpires, 6 Orioles, 2 Royals, 4 Cardinals, 1 Pirates)* Olympic Stadium Staff|
|6||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star, Orioles 60th Anniversary)|
|5||Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies, 2 Orioles, 2 Pirates)|