Category: Camden Yards

A’s at O’s – Round 2 (7/28/2012)

We usually go to 5-6 games each season at Camden Yards.  It is usually the one stadium we visit the most during the course of any season.  Yet, in 2012, we somehow made it to the last weekend of July before going back for only our second game of the season at Camden Yards.  It took several plans to fall through for this to happen.  But on July 28, 2012, we finally made it back!

Just like our first Camden Yards game of 2012, this game featured a showdown between the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.  It also featured the possibility of reaching two personal milestones. We have had 49 Camden Yards baseballs on our resume for the last several months.  Our next baseball at Camden Yards would be our 50th!  And, if we could manage to get two baseballs, our second would be our 300 baseball since Tim’s first game!  We had hit the 100 mark on 9/12/10 at Nationals Park and the 200 mark on 9/12/11 at Camden Yards.  So if we did it, it would be the first time we’d hit a hundred mark on a date other than September 12th!

So let’s get to the action.  Tim collects pictures with fire hydrants and he’d never got one at Camden Yards.  On our way to the CF gate, we found two fire hydrants about 20 feet apart…

…just across from the ballpark.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two fire hydrants so close together before.  It is Tim’s first 2-hydrant picture!

Before the gates opened, we met up with Avi, homerun catching machine Tim Anderson, and A’s superfan Rick Gold.  After chatting a few minutes, the gates opened and we all made out way to LF.  While the rest of the guys stayed in LF, Tim, Kellan and I swung around to the shady seats in foul territory.

I’ve never really noticed it before (and somehow didn’t get a picture of it), but the front row by the LF foul pole is perfect if you want to watch BP with a little kid.  The last seat at the end of the front row is pivoted toward home plate and rests up against the brick wall.  The result is that there are 5-6 seats in the front row that open from the aisle and then dead-end into the last seat so we were able to trap Kellan in there  He could walk back and forth between a couple seats, but Tim blocked the way to the aisle and the end seat blocked the other way.  It was, indeed, perfect.

When we arrived down the LF line, the O’s were hitting and a single Athletic was pitching to a catcher along the LF foul line.  There were almost no fans in foul territory other than 4-5 people standing behind the A’s catcher.

When the A’s pitcher wrapped up, he tossed his baseball to one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he grabbed another ball and threw it to another one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he walked over there, I assume to sign autographs.

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Chris Tillman sauntered over to grab a ball hit down the line.  Avi swooped in to advice, “That’s Chris Tillman!”  Thanks to Avi’s advice, we were able properly to ask  Tillman for…

…our life-time (Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball at Camden Yards!

Thanks, Chris!

Tillman tossed the ball to Tim, but threw it a bit too high.  So it went over his head and Tim had to grab it on the bounce/roll.

Kellan was all set to make a play of his own:

With one milestone in the books, we turned our sights toward our 300th lifetime (again, Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball.  It didn’t take too long.  An Orioles batter laced a liner down the line.  It took one hop on the bouncy warning track, I reached high over Tim’s head and gloved the ball easily:

In that last picture, can you see the fan sitting closest to us behind my glove.  He’s wearing shorts, a grey shirt and a green hat.  See him?  At one point, he wandered over and started chatting with me.  He came over seemingly to verify that we were really Mariners fans and ask why a family of Mariners fans was at an Orioles/Athletics game.

Figuring he was a lifelong A’s fan, I mentioned something about the Oakland Coliseum, and he surprised me by mentioning that he had “not been there yet.”  Turns out he wasn’t a lifelong A’s fan.  He was a lifelong Yankees fan, “but my son Evan pitches for the A’s.”

I was like, “What!?  Whose your son?”

Then he pointed over to that group fans that had been standing behind the A’s catcher.  And there was a Major Leaguer sitting in the front row chatting with his family!  Actually, if you look in most of the pictures above, you will find A’s pitcher Evan Scribner sitting in the seats.

I asked Evan’s dad if Tim could get his picture with Evan because “he’s never had his picture with a Major Leaguer in the stands!”  Mr. Scribner was all, “Oh, sure!  No problem.”  We walked over and Mr. Scribner made some introductions and then Tim cozied up with Evan for this outstanding picture:

That’s Evan’s brother sitting next to him in the red hat.  I believe they said he’s pitching in high school still…although, maybe they said college.  But the best part of it in my opinion (well, aside from the simple fact that it is a picture with a Major Leaguer sitting where the fans are supposed to sit) is the big smile beaming from Evan’s grandma’s face.  She looks so thrilled to see some random kid wanting to get his picture with her grandson.  Pretty awesome, in my book.

I mentioned to Evan that I was sorry to intrude but we really wanted a picture with a player sitting in the stands.  He explained that the on-field usher yelled at him for sitting on the short brick wall and told him he had to sit in the stands if he wanted to sit down.  That’s pretty hilarious.  Evan possibly met up with the strictest usher at Camden Yards, where people are generally allowed to sitting anywhere they want to sit.

Whenever we’re at Camden Yards during BP, Tim eventually notices that Avi is in the outfield and decides that he wants to go out there too.  I like to stay in foul territory as much as possible where it is less likely that one of the boys will get beaned by a BP hit.  But we decided to move just a section or two around the foul pole into fair territory to hang out with Avi.

Turns out it was a good decision.  Someone hit a baseball down the line that rolled to a stop below us.  Avi let us know that the guy coming to retrieve the baseball was Zach Britton, and Avi’s advice turned into this:

Britton flipped the ball up to Tim and he made a great snow cone catch.  The picture on the right is Tim’s actual reaction as he is turning around to show me that he snow coned it.  The picture above to the left shows Britton walking back to his group of BP mates as Tim reenacts his catch.

The way Tim caught the baseball, Avi and I could both see the Camden Yards commemorative logo hanging out of the top of Tim’s glove.  It was a really clean and nice commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Zach!

Then we quickly had an excuse to head back to foul territory:  Yoenis Cespedes was signing autographs along the foul line.

We scurried over there with a baseball and pen in Tim’s hands ready for a signature, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Tim was trailing right behind Yoenis as he made his way toward home plate.  It’s a bad place to be and it resulted in no Cespedes signature.  But, I did get a cool Cespedes-based picture:

After Cespedes stopped signing he grabbed his glove (while I was still in the process of taking close-ups of it) and ran out to LF to work on his fielding.  We headed back to our little dead-end front row…

…and watched Cespedes make a circus catch behind his back:

Cespedes had stopped signing autographers essentially at the same time that the teams switched spots on the field.  Now the A’s were taking BP.  All the A’s were running around doing there BP-thing, except for Evan Scribner.  Scribner literally spent the entire O’s and entire A’s BP chatting with his family.  Except there was one difference, during O’s BP the O’s relievers were shagging the balls hit down into the LF corner.  During A’s BP, the A’s didn’t put anyone in LF.  So Scribner jumped out of the crowd and ran over and shagged every single baseball that was hit down the LF line, and he tossed EVERY SINGLE BASEBALL into the crowd.  It was pretty amazing.

Here is one of those baseballs…

…and Scribner signing it about 5 minutes after tossing it to Tim.

Sribner tossed this baseball to Tim from probably 30-40 feet away and Tim made a great lunging catch on it.  A few minutes later, Scribner ran into the LF corner to retrieve a baseball that hit the foul pole and came to a rest just below it on the LF grass.   After he tossed that baseball into the OF seats, he walked back to his family.  On his way by, I asked him if he would sign the baseball that he tossed to Tim.  He agreed and then a hilarious little conversation occurred wherein Tim enthusiastically told Scribner that he had caught the baseball he was getting signed, and Scribner replied, “I know!  I saw it!” and I added in, “He threw it to you, Tim!”  And Tim was like, “oh.”  Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Thanks, Evan!

Soon, we decided to move back 15-20 rows and away from the field so Tim we could take some pictures of the ballpark (and the local birds):

While we were hanging out there, a guy named Mike stopped by and said he recognized us from our blog.  It’s always cool to meet someone how has enjoyed reading about our baseball adventures.

I asked Tim to try to take a nice picture of me and Kellan and this was the (very frustrating to Tim) result:

He was all set to click his shutter when someone launched a deep homerun over us.  I reacted by flinching and following the flight of the ball, and Kellan did whatever that is he is doing there.  The whole thing was very dissatisfying to Tim, the aspiring photographer.

When BP wrapped up, we did some wandering.  We wandered over to the picnic area behind the bullpens and checked out the new statues:

Then we watched some warm-up action in the bullpens:

And Orioles coach Bill Conrad came over and tossed a ball to me for Kellan:

Kellan was on my shoulders at the time.  After I caught it, I put him on the ground and handed him the ball.  He walked over to bullpen fence while Conrad did the same.  As you can see above, Kellan was holding the baseball in his left hand.  Conrad asked if he’s left handed.  When I said, “no.”  Conrad told me that I ought to teach him to be left handed.

Next, we decided to head to the play area.  But on our way, we took a detour up to the new bar area above the batters’ eye.  We’d never checked it out up there yet.  It is pretty cool:

As you can see in the bottom right picture above, there are two rows of stool seating at the front of the batters’ eye bar.  I took this panorama from the SRO area directly behind the second row:

After we headed down the stairs from the batters’ eye bar, we ducked into the CF seats to watch the first pitch:

And then we walked through the revamped flag court on our way to the play area:

I wanted to get a good action shot from the flag court, but the best I could do was this pitch out to Seth Smith while Jemile Weeks did not try to swipe 2B:

And, finally, much to Tim’s relief, we made it to the kids’ play area.  First up, a picture with the very cool looking Orioles pig:

Tim took a few hacks in one of the cages:

Kellan inspected one of the big Oriole bobbleheads while Tim argued with the bird like he was an umpire:

And then it was time to do some bouncing…

…and playing on the way-too-tall-and-dangerous play fort before heading off to get some ice cream.

A nice usher let us sit in some great handicap accessible seats right behind home plate while the boys ate their ice cream:

This was the view as Bartolo Colon set down the Orioles in order in the bottom of the second inning:

After the boys polished off their ice cream, we headed out to LF for a while.  This was our view as we looked at the field:

And this was our view when we looked away from the field:

Of course, those fellas are Baltimore’s own Avi Miller and Tim Anderson.  Tim told me on the drive down to Baltimore that he was going to take a self-portrait of himself and Avi.  Mission accomplished.

The A’s started the scoring for the night in the top of the fourth inning on a 2-run blast by Yoenis Cespedes…

…who was stationed just to our right during the bottom half of the innings we spent out in LF.

By Tim’s request, we pulled the “old switcheroo” – desert first followed by a late dinner.  Ice cream was a success.  Now it was time for dinner.  We decided on pizza.  Avi gave us directions to the closest pizza stand.  Once we grabbed our slices, we headed to the back row of the upper deck to eat:

This was our view from up there:

I got a great picture of Cespedes hitting a ball and breaking his bat:

At the time, the score was 3-0 A’s.  The very next batter was Chris Carter, and he blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

Before leaving the upper deck, I took some funny self-portraits of the three of us:

While we were up in the upper deck (and the A’s led 3-0), Chris Carter blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

We decided to head back to the play area before it closed down in the 7th inning.  I noticed something cool on the way down the stairs in the RF foul corner:

When we got back to the play area, the boys did a little bit more bouncing in the moon bounce and got a picture with another Orioles bobblehead:

Then we headed back behind home plate and ran into the Oriole Bird:

I tried to get Kellan to pose with the Bird too, but he was too scared of the big smiley Bird.

We were going to hang out in the cross aisle behind home plate for a while.  But an usher didn’t want us standing there, so she made us sit down in the fancy seats behind home plate.

Okay, I guess so, if you say we must!

The boys had lots of fun clowning around in the seats:

We repositioned again in the 9th inning.  And look who was pitching for the A’s:

It was Evan Scribner.

He pitched well, except for giving up a homerun to Nick Markakis:

The A’s ended up winning the game 6-1.

At the end of the game, we got in perfect position for an umpire baseball attempt.  But the ump turn the other way and gave out all of his baseballs to kids on the other side of the tunnel before heading out of the field area.

We decided to head over to the Orioles dugout and one of the Orioles relievers ended up tossing an commemorative baseball to us.  Don’t know who it was, but

Thanks, Oriole-guy!

Once all of the action on the field was finished, an usher took a picture of me and the boys before we headed out of the ballpark:

It’s always great to spend an afternoon and evening at Camden Yards.  Luckily, we’d be back soon.  The very next week our Mariners would be stopped through Camden Yards for three games, and we planned to attend one of them.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

16/14 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
24 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 3, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
87 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 11, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
14 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 6, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium,  Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park5/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird;   Kellan – Fredbird
4/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner

 

Orioles Win One For Frank Robinson (4/28/2012)

During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards.  But the weather outlook was sketchy.  Rain seemed to be in the forecast.  And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game.  I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain.  But on Friday, I made the decision:  Kellan would definitely join us.

So let’s do it.

It was our first night game of the season.  After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:

When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…

…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).

Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…

…and so were we.  In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold.  Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person.  Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.

Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:

The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m.  The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others.  As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart.  A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…

…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures!  The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards.  (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).

I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person.  But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony.  So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened.  As usual, we headed for the third base line:

Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house.  His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out.  Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):

That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far.  In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business.  It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me.  But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.

Thanks, Camera!

And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!

By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet.  But it was a great moment anyway.

Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:

Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned?  During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:

We decided to head over there for a little peak.  But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.

We decided to head off to the restroom.  Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:

He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”

And get back out there we did.

We headed back to the third base line.  Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea.  Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP.  He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.

Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim.  We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player.  But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:

Thanks, Mr. Miller!

Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):

It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball.  It rolled all the way back down to the first row.  I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.

Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling.  They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…

…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system.  It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.

Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi.  We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled.  Out came the tarp:

And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:

We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time.  I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours.  When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start!  Yikes.  Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.

After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas.  The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining.  Here is what it looks like…

…and…

…and…

…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:

We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas.  I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…

…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture).  Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap.  I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it.  Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor.  It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.

Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.

When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:

In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.”  In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue.  Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.

All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:

Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool.  He’s a big fan of being cool!  Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh?  He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.

Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.”  Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.”  I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.

As the game started, it was time for some dinner.  Kellan and I shared nachos…

…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.

After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:

The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence.  Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.

Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field.  On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:

Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.

While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.

That made the score 5-0 Orioles.

We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:

And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:

He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.

When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):

Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:

Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:

And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:

Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.

While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit.  That made it 6-0 Orioles.  Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.

Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate.  This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:

Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.

During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate.  Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times.  While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”).  Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”).  It was pretty cute.

In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:

The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street.  After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.

I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.

We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk.  We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi.  We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.

And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate.  As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings.  Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult.  We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up.  He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.

Anyway, we went back to our same spot.  Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there.  In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?”  He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.

So we obliged him:

And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:

I took some random action shots…

…but the scoring was done for the night.

We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball.   As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea.  I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.

We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play.  But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.

We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.

No such luck.

But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.

As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap.  He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug.  He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.

The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.

Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.

An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:

Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and  came over to chat with us.  Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi.  Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:

Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):

Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim.  Cool.

When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves.  They were a secret.  When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home.  Something secret.  He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan).  But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.

So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards.  Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver.  Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim:  we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).

This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup:  Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan!  That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!

Stay tuned.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1
14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1
1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park
3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

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:

No fun.

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.

Thanks, Jak!

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.

Thanks, J.P.!

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.

Thanks, Rick!

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.

Thanks, Jim!

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.

Thanks, Scott!

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.

199!

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.

YES!

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,
1 Pirates)
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

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2011 (7/23/11)

Tim and I were in for a long day on Saturday, July 23, 2011.  We are members of myGameBalls.com, and by the decree of founder Alan Schuster, this game was dubbed “Ballhawkfest 2011.”  While the battle between the Angels and Orioles was the primary focus of Ballhawkfest, there was a lot more going on than just the MLB game.

Tim and I left home at about 9:00 a.m. and we arrived at Carroll Park Field #2 for a friendly softball game at 11:00 a.m.  Well, that was the original plan.  But the 100+ degree weather scared off some of the would-be participants and we did not have enough for a full game.  In fact, we only had 10 softball players.  But that did not stop us from having a great time.

First, we divided up into two teams.  My team included me, Alan Schuster, Mateo Fischer, Mike Rowles and the late arriving Ben “Wild Thing” Weil.  Our opposition included Zack Hample, “Flava” Dave Stevenson, Oliver Rowles (Mike’s son), Alex “Gold Glove” Kopp, and Garrett Meyer.

In the dugout, we had Jona (of Team Hample fame), Tim (who kept busy keeping score and hitting whiffle balls), and James (a documentarian who is filming a piece about Zack).

I have no clue how we decided the rules of the game, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a very interesting format.  We played seven innings of super-modified homerun derby.  At the outset, Zack pitched to both teams.  Once Ben arrived in the third inning, each team pitched to itself.  Each inning, each batter got two outs – one hitting a softball and one hitting a baseball.  All fielders played in the outfield.  Any ball that landed in the outfield grass without being caught on the fly scored one run.  Any baseball hit over the outfield fence scored five runs.  Any swing that did not result in a run was an out.

It was hard to get pictures because we kept running in and out from the field to the dugout.  But here is the best of what we got.  First, Alan Schuster sized up a sweet Hample baseball pitch:

Interesting side note, for the baseball portion of the derby, we used Alan Schuster’s entire MLB-snagged baseball collection.

Zack was a quality pitcher for our first two innings:

I was happy to take him yard twice.

The final score was high because homeruns counted for five runs each, but really it was difficult to score runs because everyone played stellar defense.  Would you expect any less from this group?  My unofficial Gold Glove award goes to Alex Kopp…

…pictured here in the red shorts.  He patrolled left field like a pro.  He was running all over the place and made a ton of great catches.  He personally robbed me of several runs.

In the dugout, Jona was busy taking tons of pictures (by the end of the day (including the MLB game) she took over 900 photos)…

…and Tim used a spray bottle of cold water to keep cool as he played.

It was harder to score with the softballs because they did not travel as far as the baseballs.  Here is Mateo putting a good stroke on one of Ben’s neon yellow softballs:

Special thanks to Jona for taking a couple shots of me at the bat.  Here I am turning on an inside pitch from Benny Bang Bang and driving a homerun that stayed fair by about five feet:

This picture looks better than the last, but it resulted in only a one-run hit, not a homerun:

The game was tight until the bottom of the fifth inning when we went off for 14 runs.  The final score was…

…44-29 good guys.  Zack and I tied for the most homeruns with 4 each.  Alan Schuster also had one bomb.  Speaking of Alan, the game ended on a great play.  Zack was the final batter in the top of the seventh.  He hit a ball that was clearly going to land over the fence.  But Alan calmly drifted back to the fence, leaned his entire upper body over the fence, and, with full extension, flat out robbed Zack of a homerun.

After the game, we set up our cameras on a flipped over garbage can and got some group photos.  First at home plate:

From left to right:  (Front) Jona, Flava Dave, Tim, me.  (Back) Ben Weil, Zack Hample, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, Garrett Meyer, Alex Kopp, Mateo Fischer, and Mike Rowles.

I do not have a photo that goes with it, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Oliver made an amazing running grab on one of my swings.  I hit a deep ball to RCF that I was sure was going to score one run.  But Oliver ran…who knows, maybe 75 feet to his left and made the catch at a full gallop.  Excellent catch, Oliver!

Back to the pictures, we turned around and got another group shot standing at the mound:

I should note that Ben threw on some official Cleveland Indians “Major League” give-away glasses to complete the “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn look.  Nicely done, Ben!

Next, we all hopped in our cars and scooted across town to Di Pasquaele’s Italian Marketplace.  Matt Hersl, who skipped out on softball/baseball, picked the restaurant and it was a good one.  Tasty, tasty.

Tim requested a picture with the “chef”…

…and he posed with Alan and the Andruw Jones bobblehead that he won in the drawing Alan organized.  That bobblehead now rests on a bookshelf in Tim’s room.

Here is the best picture of our table at lunch:

That’s an official eating action shot!

Lunch wrapped up around 3:30 and people started to break up and head their own ways.  The plan was to meet up again outside the CF gate on Eutaw Street.  The gates would
not open until 5:05 p.m., and I was absolutely dreading the idea of standing in the sun at the gates for an hour or more in the 100+ degree heat.

So we found a very favorable alternative.  After parking in a garage on Eutaw Street, we headed to the Hilton on Pratt Street and found some empty couches in the lobby.  Soon, Mateo wandered by and the three of us ended up chatting for almost an hour while gate opening times drew nearer.

Actually, it was primarily me and Mateo doing the chatting.  Tim was spending most of his time monkeying around and spraying himself with his spray bottle:

We did not have tickets for the game yet.  As we relaxed in the Hilton lobby, I exchanged a bunch of texts with our Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller.  Avi arrived at the CF gate just about ten minutes before gate opening.  When we got the text that he’d arrived at the ballpark, Tim, Mateo and I left the air conditioned Hilton lobby and headed to the blisteringly hot gate at the CF side of Eutaw Street.

Before the gates opened, we said our hellos to the myGameBalls.com guys whom we’d dined with just an hour or so ago.  We posed for a bunch of group shots (but not with my camera…so see here and here) and then every headed toward LF as the gates opened.

Everyone, I should say, except us.  We headed to the shady third base line where (among all of the Angels stretching in front of the dugout) we found former-Mariner Russell Branyan (no. 39):

It is always good to see a former-Mariner, even if he’s playing for one of our A.L. West rivals like the Angels.  Actually, there is another former-Mariner (although one who was never an everyday player for the Mariners) in that picture, Adam Jones.

After a few minutes, we drifted down the line a bit toward the outfield.  Right along the foul line, Osaka Japan’s Koji Uehara (wearing tight running pants under his shorts in the 100+ degree weather) was chatting with Toyko Japan’s Hisanori Takahashi:

Maybe they were discussing the “cultural fault lines” between their respective hometowns.  Or maybe they were discussing the fact that Takahashi (April 2, 1975) is exactly one day older than Uehara (April 3, 1975).  Whatever they were discussing, it did not prevent Koji from fielding a batted ball and walking over and handing it to Tim.

As Koji approached, I said “Hey, Koji, could we get a picture with you?”  He said, “Yes.”  And then he handed the baseball to Tim, turned around and walked away.  Hmm…I don’t think he understood my request…I probably should have asked him in Japanese.  Nevertheless…

Domo arigato, Koji-san!

A few minutes later, Russell Branyan finished playing catch with his partner and he flipped the baseball to Tim.  Tim just watched the ball sail by his face and land in the empty seat next to him.  But no one else was around, so we picked up the ball and no error was charged on the play.

As he tossed the baseball, I asked Russell if he could pose for a picture with Tim.  Sure he could:

After the photo but before heading back out onto the field, Russell reached out his humongous hand and gave Tim and I each a mighty hand shake.  They don’t call him Russell the Muscle for nothing.  That dude is huge.

All of the myGameBalls.com ballhawks were going crazy out in LF chasing homeruns.  Around this time, Avi came and visited us in foul territory so he could inform us that our prank of Zack Hample had been successful – for the complete story click here.

While Avi was over chatting with us, someone sliced a foul ball about 10 rows behind us.  It hit the seats and ricocheted right to Avi.

A few minutes later, Takahashi’s interpreter and trainer Yoichi Terada (at least that is my assumption of who this guy is)…

…walked by and handed Tim a baseball.  Terada had been playing catch with someone…maybe Takahashi…along with all of the other Angels pitchers playing catch along the LF foul line.  When he finished, he picked up two baseballs (including the baseball he gave to Tim) that were sitting on the ground along the line.  The two baseballs were *extras* that were brought out there in case someone lost their warm up ball.  Those baseballs were never used, and the one that Terada handed to Tim looked like it was brand-spanking new.

Eventually, Tim asked to go check out the bullpens.  We did, but no one was in either.  So when we spotted Jona sitting in the shade in the first row above the cross aisle, we joined her for a little bit of sun relief.  This is what it looked like:

And that is where we were standing when Dan Haren…

…unloaded a mega-toss-up over section 84 and directly into my glove for our fourth and final baseball of the day.

After BP ended, most of the myGameBalls.com’ers gathered toward the bottom of section 86.  Most of the guys were there in hopes of snagging one of the 8 or so homeruns that had been hit into the Orioles bullpen.  But we were just there to chat with the others, chew on some of the free ice the Orioles were providing in the concourse, and to spray Tim’s spray bottle all over the place.

Our “Ballhawkfest” shirts had our names and the number of baseballs we had snagged in our lives (through the all-star break) on the back.  Just for kicks, I got this picture of Tim and Zack showing off their numbers and they watched the empty field:

Not too shabby, Tim is (or was!) only 5,052 baseballs behind Zack.

Eventually, the Angels starting pitcher (and former-Mariner) Joel Piniero made his way out to CF to warm up:

When Piniero moved to the bullpen, Tim and I headed up to the top of section 86 to watch Joel:

Well, I watched Joel.  Tim spent most of his time squirting himself in the face:

With the game just about to start, a bunch of us met up in the LF corner for a group photo with the baseballs we had snagged during BP:

Lets see…going clockwise: Zack had 5 at the time (including a special FeMeBe baseball from Jeremy Guthrie), Alex Kopp had 4, Garrett Meyer had 4, Flava Dave (who you can
hardly see except for his arms) had 4, Jeremy Evans (who was a late arrival) had 1, Alan Schuster had 3 (his first 3 of the season), Oliver Rowles had 5, Tim and I had 4, Avi had 3, and Jona and Ben each had empty hands.  FYI, those are not necessarily final totals.

Right before that group photo, the Orioles PA announcer informed us that the game time temperature was 102 degrees.  We were hungry and hot.  So Tim, Ben, Avi and his
girlfriend Beverly, and I headed to the air conditioned club level.  Avi and Beverly headed to section 258 to watch the game in person.  But Tim and I grabbed a table in front of a big flat screen and ate dinner:

After a few minutes, Ben joined us.  We had been out in the hot sun so long that we were in no rush to head outside and watch the game in person…the air conditioning and flat screen were a-okay for us.  We stayed in there until the fourth inning!  After eating, Tim entertained us with some extreme high pants…

…and some fake DJ’ing on one of the nearby easy chairs:

While we were eating dinner, Ben and I discussed (among other things) the definition of a “ballhawk” and whether we qualified under that definition.  Personally, I don’t think of me and Tim as “ballhawks” because we don’t go to games with the purpose of getting baseballs.  We go to games because we love baseball and want to experience all that a Major League game has to offer.  It just so happens that trying to get a baseball during BP is one of those experiences…and an important part of the game experience since I was a little boy.  But, when you compare us to the other participants in ballhawkfest, our *strategies* and *skills* are quite limited.  Essentially, Tim and Kellan are cute kids (players like cute kids…most people do actually) and we know where to stand during BP.  But, if that makes us *ballhawks* I suppose we can live with the title.  Although,
maybe a better title would be baseballhawks or ballparkhawks…or, simply, baseball fans.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, and it was a lot of fun chatting with Ben.  We actually met Ben at U.S. Cellular Field back in 2009, and we had a lot of fun with him on that day too.

Before joining Avi and Beverly in the seats, Tim and I walked the club level to check out what it had to offer.  Most of my pictures came out blurry (I guess because of the lighting) so I will just share this one of Tim and the Orioles Hall of Fame:

Here is what Camden Yards looks like from section 258 in the club level:

N.T.S.  (You know it, not too shabby).

By the time we arrived in the seats, the Angels had already scored all of their runs for this game.  In fact, all of the Angels runs came in the first inning on a 2-run homerun by Vernon Wells.

The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning courtesy of a solo shot by Adam Jones.  Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  And that was all of the scoring in this game.  While I was happy to see the Mariners division rival fall, it was sad that Piniero got tagged for the loss.

We sat in section 258 from the fourth through the seventh.  Tim spent most of that time unloading 3 squirt bottles full of water on Avi:

Avi laid down a rule that Tim could live with:  No spraying Beverly, but Tim could spray Avi as much as he wanted.  And Tim wanted to spray Avi a lot.  In the eyes, in the ears, on his shirt, on his shorts, back of the head, shoulders, elbows, a direct shot to the mouth, Avi was an excellent Target, and Tim was a happy triggerman.

Between sprays, Tim did a little spinning happy dance:

Before the Angels removed him in the bottom of the sixth, I got this shot of Joel Piniero on the mound:

As I said, gotta love former-Mariners.  Particularly, a former-Mariner who performed well and was a fan favorites while in Seattle.  And that describes Piniero.

Our bright yellow “Ballhawkfest” t-shirts served their purpose perfectly; it was easy to spot the guys all around the stadium.  Like here – we spotted Garrett Meyer sitting about half-way up the field level seats behind third base:

In the seventh, Tim and I decided to head down to the field level behind home plate.  On our way out of the club level, I had a little bit better luck taking photos.  This is the seating area where we ate dinner (at the empty table in the middle of the photo):

Oversized autographed baseballs art:

From left to right, that is Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell (with the notation “MVP ‘70”), and Cal Ripken, Jr.

A busy bar:

Orioles World Series trophies and four gold glove awards:

And six Orioles Cy Young Awards:

When I was taking the picture of Tim and the World Series trophies, Avi was standing behind me chatting with Adam Jones’ mom (and several other people).  When Jonesys’ mom walked by Tim she said something like, “Oh, honey, you should squirt me!”  Tim was still holding his squirter, but he did not squirt her.

We ended up sitting with Jona (who deserves special thanks for being so cool and chatting so much with Tim throughout the day) for the last couple innings.  She had been sitting in the last row on the ailse in section 32.  Before joining Jona in the back row, Tim tested out a double seat setup:

The Angels were trying to come back, but Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were too much for them.  Neither Bobby Abreau…

…nor Vernon Wells…

…could help the Angels.  Both grounded out against Gregg in the ninth.

Toward the end of the game, Tim enjoyed a twist ice cream helmet to cap off a great day…

…and after the game he used his water squirter to clean the ice cream residue from his dirty face.

After the game, the remaining Ballhawkfest participants met up again behind the third base dugout.  We got our picture with Alan Schuster:

Then Garrett (who was visiting from Kansas City) requested a picture with Tim:

Of course, with two cameras going, Tim was looking at one camera while Garrett looked at the other.  Doesn’t it always happen that way?

Here is one of the coolest pictures of the day:

And one more featuring everyone’s sweaty faces:

Once again that is (right to left): Jeremy Evans, Mateo Fischer, Zack Hample, Jona (she’s only got one name like Ichiro), Alex Kopp, Tim (posing with one of Garrett’s baseballs
because ours were packed away in my backpack), Garrett Meyer, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, and Benny “Bang Bang” Weil.

A great group of guys (and girl).  Ballhawkfest 2011 was loads of fun and a smashing success.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
18/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
54 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
13/9 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; 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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); 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.

Kellan and Tim, 1 and 100 (7/16/11)

July 16, 2011 was a special day.  Most importantly, it was Kellan’s first birthday.  Yep, he’s finally made it to the single digits.  We decided to celebrate his birthday with a weekend trip to Baltimore with a whole bunch of friends and family.  The big event on Saturday (Kellan’s actual birthday) would be attending the game between the
Indians and the Orioles.  The following day, we would visit the famous National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

As an added bonus, the baseball game would be Tim’s 100th game.

Just like the Cleveland Indians, we stayed at the Renaissance Harborside hotel across Pratt Street from the Inner Harbor.  We started off with lunch a Tir Na Nog and then it was back to the hotel for birthday cake:

We were a little bit late to batting practice and missed out on most of the Orioles BP.  Right as we circled around to the 3B side, two Indians pitchers were finishing playing catch and one of them tossed their baseball to us.

A few minutes later, Avi Miller (decked out in full Indians garb) was chatting with Tony Sipp.  I called out, “Hey, Tony!  It is this guy’s first birthday, how about a picture!?”

Thanks, Tony!

Just a few minutes later, Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch.  A quick “Hey, Chad” later, he spun around and tossed his baseball to me, Tim and Kellan.  A few seconds after that, Durbin became the second major leaguer to hold the birthday boy:

In that last picture, the Orioles stadium attendant (Tom) has pointing at me and telling me to give him my camera so Tim and I could get in the picture.  The funniest part was when Tom delayed the picture so he could clear all of the people out from behind us – Tom apparently thought they were cluttering our picture with Durbin.

The picture of all of us with Chad Durbin turned out pretty hilarious…

…because Kellan is about to blink and his eyes are half closed.  He looks like he is falling asleep.

Earlier in the day, Avi had told me that the day before Zack Hample had pre-arranged to get the line-up cards from Manny Act after the game.  It would be awesome to get a line-up card for Kellan’s first birthday game.  So I figured it was worth a shot.

At the time, it was me, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my cousin Nathan and his buddy Matt.  We all relocated from the 3B line to the seats behind home plate:

We spotted Manny Act hitting fungo on the 1B side of the batting cage.  Kellan and I scooted down to the first row on the side of the umpire tunnel.  Everyone else grabbed some seats, and Tim provided the entertainment:

Things worked out ideally.  I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get his attention.  But he ended coming over to the net on the other side of the umpire’ tunnel to talk to some
people he knew:

To get back to the Indians dugout, Manny would have to walk directly in front of us.  While we were waiting on Manny, an Orioles reporter (who Avi Miller has identified as Craig Heist)…

…came over and played with Kellan.  It was pretty funny.  The guy acted like Kellan was the cutest and funniest baby of all time.

And then Manny Acta walked by and stopped…

…to chat with us after I called out his name.  The discussion went something like this:

Todd:  Hi, Manny.  Hey, it is my son’s first birthday today.  I was wondering if there is any way that after the game we could get the line-up card with his birthdate on it?

Manny:  Oh, sure.  No problem.  But, it has to be after the game.

Todd:  Awesome!  Thanks so much.

Manny:  But, after the game!

Todd:  Sounds good.

Manny:  Yeah, but you have to wait until after the game.

Todd:  Cool.  Thanks.

Manny:  So just come down to the dugout, but not until after the game.

Got it.  I was excited to come back to see Manny, after the game, and see if he would remember us.

Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I spent the rest of BP out in left field, but nothing came of it…well, except for some nice family time:

So, it was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 7.  This picture is out of order, but here was our view from section 7, row 11:

There were 21 of us in all, including Tim’s buddy Sam…

…, who is the son of Colleen’s friend, Deb.

To start the game, we moved over a section so we could hide in the shade.  Kellan spent some quality time sitting on his aunt Kimberly’s lap:

In the bottom of the first, J.J. Hardy led off with a double for the Orioles.  He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  That made the score 1-0 Orioles after one inning.

At one point, the Orioles Bird showed up in the seats just below section 7.  I called out for whoever wanted a picture with the Bird to follow me.  And then began the slowest Bird chase of all time.  My crew included my sister-in-law Kimberly, my nephew and niece Gill and Kate, and Noah.  None of them had ever chased down a mascot before and they didn’t understand the urgency of a mascot chase.

Tim and I could have got our picture with the Bird and been back in our seats eating a pile of steaming hot nachos before this rag-tag group of Bird watchers made it to the
spot where the Bird used to be.  But the Bird had darted into a new section and was making his way through rows of fans handing out high fives and posing for pictures.

I repositioned our group at the bottom of the next section over where I predicted the Bird would return to the cross aisle.  While we waited, Kimberly posed with some displeased Orioles fans:

And then the Bird arrived on the scene and made Noah’s day:

When the moment came, Kate opted not to get in the picture.  The funniest thing about this picture is that I was the only person taking a picture.  The Bird is looking at the camera, and I have no clue what Gill and Noah are looking at…maybe they are watching the game!  And check out Gill with the classic Ted Williams glove on, ready to catch a foul ball.  Atta’boy, Gill!

The Orioles extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Derrek Lee singled in Nick Markasis.

With a group of 21 people to choose from, it was our first real opportunity to get one of the more difficult photos from the 2011 myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

15 people in 3 rows of 5, each holding a baseball.  Many thanks to (front row) Noah, Kate, Tim, Sam and Ellie; (second row) Jenn, Geralyn, Gill, Kristen, and Andy; and (back row) Mark, Kevin, Will, Matt and Nathan!

In the middle innings, it was time to hit the play area and get some dinner:

After having lots of fun on the fort, Tim gave us a huge scare by trying to inhale his hot dog and choking on it.  It was really freaky.  It was just like in “Field of Dreams” when the daughter chokes on a hot dog.  I slapped Tim on the back and he shot a two inch piece of hot dog out of his throat.

We’ve learned our lesson.  MLB games are nacho time, not hot dog time.

We had to hustle back to our seats because we were expecting something fun on the scoreboard.  But first there was more scoring.  The Indians tied up the score at 2-2 in the
top of the sixth on a double 2-RBI double by Mariner-child Michael Brantley.  The Orioles then recaptured the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nick Markakis blasted a homerun to RCF.

And then our scoreboard message appeared out in CF:

Kellan’s first ever scoreboard “Happy Birthday!”  First of man, I am sure.

Then Avi and Zevi showed up at our seats to say hello, and I handed off a Mexican League (FeMeBe) baseball to Avi for a little prank I had in mind and with which Avi offered to help – you can see that story here.

Avi also told me that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon would soon be heading back to the Dominican Republic to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the celebratory-shooting death of his cousin.  I figured I should take an action shot of Simon in case he gets convicted and never returns to MLB:

Of course, we got some random shots in the stands.  Like this shot of Colleen and Kellan seemingly in the middle of a staring contest:

And this shot of the Steeles as they get ready to call it a night:

And you know we had to get a brothers-in-matching-shirts shot:

It was a nice and relaxing evening at the ballpark.  The birthday boy got lots of attention…like here where he gets some snacks from Geralyn while I hold him:

Tim was his usual silly self:

In the eighth inning, Tim, Kellan and I relocated to some seats behind the Indians bullpen in hopes that Manny Acta would remember that he said Kellan could have the line-up cards.  Soon after grabbing some seats, Avi joined us.  And then a few minutes later, Colleen joined us as well.

Here was our view from the first seats we found:

Avi, Tim, Kellan and I eventually moved down to about the fourth row.  Nice seats. This doesn’t really do the view justice, but it looked  something like this:

Now, the Orioles were leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.  But then, on the strength of a trio of doubles by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Felix Pie, the Orioles put up three more runs to make it a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

Koji “Now A Ranger” Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Orioles, but they did not bring him back for the ninth.  Instead, they went with Kevin Gregg.  It was not a good decision.  Gregg was anything but clutch.

After striking out the first batter in the top of the ninth, Gregg walked the bases loaded.  He then struck out the Lonnie Chisenhall for the second out of the 26th out of the game.  As Orlando Cabrera strode to the plate and the Orioles still leading 6-2, Avi declared, “The Orioles are going to win this game 6-5.”

He was spot on.  Cabrera laced a double to the RCF gap.  It cleared the bases and made the score 6-5 Orioles.

Buck Showalter had seen enough of Mr. Gregg.  He got the hook and was replaced by Mike Gonzalez.  Three pitches later, Grady Sizemore grounded out to first base and that was the ballgame.

I was did not have high hopes of actually getting the line-up card for Kellan because the Indians started filing into the tunnel to their clubhouse instead of out onto the field
for high-fives.  But we walked down to the first row right above the player exit to the clubhouse.  Just then, Manny Act walked by.  He looked up and saw me and gave me a look that made it clear we were getting the line-up card!  I was excited.  Manny ducked out of view for a few seconds and then he popped out of the dugout, reached up high and handed me the line-up cards – not one card  (like the one taped to the dugout wall), but two (as in the official cards he kept in his pocket during the entire game).  They were beautiful.  One for the Orioles.  One for the Indians.  Each signed by the respective managers (Manny Acta and Buck Showalter.  And both emblazoned with the date of Kellan’s first birthday.

Outstanding.

Thanks, Manny!

Before heading for the exit, Avi took two family pictures for us – this one with Kellan finding the field much more exciting than the camera (can you blame him)…

…and this one (where we could at least see his face):

On the walk to the exit, I took this photo of Kellan’s birthday gift from Manny Act:

He is officially the first Cook to ever receive birthday gifts (two baseballs and two line-up cards) from Major Leaguers….of course, he is also the only Cook whose birthday is
during the baseball season, so he has an advantage over the rest of us.

All-in-all, it was a great night!

Ah, I almost forgot, we also got another baseball post-game behind the Indians dugout.  The next day was Noah’s birthday and we had got him a Rawlings baseball glove.
Conveniently, it was in a gift bag and not sealed up in a wrapped box, so I slid that baseball into the glove when we got back to the hotel and gave it to Noah at breakfast the next day.  I am pretty sure he likes the baseball more than the glove.

Speaking of the next day, we had a blast at the aquarium and Inner Harbor.

The National Aquarium is great.  Here is a family photo of us in the Australia exhibit…

…and a shot of Tim and his cousins looking at some fish…and it appears Tim is applauding the fish.  “Good job swimming, guys!”

Tim really loved the dolphins (who were practicing for their show):

That is Uncle Kevin holding Kellan in the dolphin arena.

Tim and Kellan both loved the big jelly fish exhibit…

…but the sharks were scary with all of those teeth.  Actually, Tim told me the scariest thing about the sharks was their gums!

After the aquarium, we took a water taxi…

…to Fells Point for an early dinner.

What can I say, it was a great birthday weekend for our little boy.  Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped make it extra special.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
17/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
50 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1
Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
12/9 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; 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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); 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.