On May 26, 2013, we woke up in Windsor, Ontario. We had one more baseball game scheduled for the 2013 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, and it was waiting across the river from us, back at Comerica Park.
The game was scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. start time. We decided to do breakfast back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so we hopped in the car, motored through the Tunnel to U.S.A. and crossed the border for the final time on our trip:
We had no clue what we would do for breakfast. We thought maybe we would pass a nice looking restaurant on our way to the stadium. I wasn’t sure how the morning would go if we didn’t get to eat anything until the ballpark opened around 11:30. But we were there before we knew it and didn’t find any breakfast. Oh, well…we’d figure something out…
We parked in the stadium lot directly across the street from the batters’ eye. Tim caught some pop flies…
…before we set out to see the ballpark.
Because we were running late the day before, we hadn’t gotten a chance for my dad to see the outside of the ballpark. We headed to the LF corner and circled around toward the 3B side. Here are some sights along the way:
From top right and moving in the shape of a “W”: (1) Tim and my dad are standing just outside of the LF gate with Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) behind them; (2) walking down the street from LF toward the home plate end of the ballpark, we walked by the ferris wheel; (3) circling around the corner just passed the ferris wheel, Tim and my dad in front of a fancy tiger door; (4) a little further down the side walk, Tim and Kellan posed with a fancy tile Tiger “D”; and (5) just passed the players’ entrance, Tim posed with a plaque for Ty Cobb the “Greatest Tiger of All, A Genius in Spikes.”
As we kept walking, we circled the next corner and found ourselves outside the coolest ballpark gate in all of Major League Baseball:
This gate is so big and bold and awesome that it is pretty much impossible to get all of the awesomeness into one picture, so here are some more:
Hey, guess what!? See those windows below the two tigers in the photo above to the right? Well, inside those windows is a diner…
…where we were able to feast on pancakes and bacon! Hooray! Isn’t it great when things work out?
After breakfast, we headed to the coolest gate in all of baseball and set our stuff down first in line. And then we played catch a whole bunch. Eventually, I started throwing pop flies to Tim and this was the result:
In case that doesn’t make sense, I was throwing pop flies over the Comerica Park sign to Tim our by the big tiger. It was actually quite difficult to throw the ball straight up and over that sign and still make it land out where Tim was standing.
Once the crowd got too big for us to continue playing catch, we hung out by the gate. Tim passed time by climbing on these support bars…
…while Kellan sat with my dad and looked at pictures on his cellphone.
Upon entering the stadium, the boys both collected their give-away Tigers baseball cards sets, and then we headed down to the field. We were the first people entering the 1B foul territory seats. As we walked down the aisle, there were 4-5 Twins coaches sitting on the wall. I was sure they would walk away as they saw *the fans* approaching, but they stayed put. Tim, Kellan and I walked up behind them and I asked them collectively, “Any Twins coaches interested in getting a picture with some Mariners fans!?”
The closest coach to us was Rick Anderson:
And he was, indeed, interested in meeting and getting a picture with some Mariners fans. We chatted for a minute or two. He grew up in Everett, Washington, just north of where I grew up and my folks live, and he went to Mariner High School and used to play sports against Edmonds High School and Woodway High School back in the day. My freshman year, Edmonds and Woodway combined to create the world famous Edmonds-Woodway High School!!!
Rick was a nice dude. And, as we parted ways, he handed us one of the two baseballs he was holding.
After we chatted with Rick, the other coaches started to disperse. One of the Twins’ bullpen catchers started to head toward the dugout. On his way, he tossed two baseballs into the crowd, one to us and one to my dad.
Thanks, unknown bullpen catcher guy!
The field was not set up for BP, which was no surprise. There were no Twins out playing catch. But several sets of Tigers were playing catch on the 3B side. So we headed over there.
Because Prince Fielder had spent all those years in Milwaukee, we brought Tim’s cheese head with us. Prince wasn’t out on the field, but Tim decided to put on the cheesehead when we headed to Tigers side.
As this picture shows…
…, a some Tigers were playing catch in LF and there was a random stray ball sitting in shallow LF.
As a Tigers coach, Mike Rojas, walked in from the bullpen toward the dugout holding his fungo bat, I called out to him and pointed at the ball in LF. He walked over to it, shouted “CHEESEHEAD!” and gave Tim perfect bounce pass.
Tim caught the ball and admired its *different* logo:
Turns out it was a AAA International League baseball…
…, the second minor league baseball we have snagged at a Major League ballpark.
Sundays at Comerica Park are kids days. That means kids run the bases after the game, and kids ride the rides for free. It was time for some rides. We headed over to the ferris wheel:
We got there just in time. There was a short line, and two minutes later is what 3-4 times as long.
Here are some random view from the ferris wheel:
Pretty cool how the “Tigers” sign pops over the upper deck from the top of the ferris wheel?
All of us Cook boys had fun on there:
When we got off of the ferris wheel, we took a quick stroll through the “Beer Hall”…
…just to see what it looked like in there. At the entrance way of the ferris wheel area there is a fountain with a big baseball on top of it. And Kellan loved it:
Like the day before, we headed over to Twins bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. While standing around of there, they kept showing this cool graphic on the big screen:
Today’s Twins battery was Mike Pelfrey…
…and Ryan Doumit.
Hey, check out the cool hat the police officer guarding the bullpen was wearing:
And check out Ryan Doumit’s fancy finger nail stickers:
(I think those are stickers).
By the way, I should mention that Pelfrey was going up against Max Scherzer and his perfect 6-0 record. So he had a tall task before him.
While we were over at the bullpen, Kellan fell asleep on my shoulders…
…and he was sleeping hard.
The game was about to start. Tim wanted to get some ice cream so he and my dad headed over to the Big Cat food court. Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle so I could lean against the back wall while Kellan slept on my shoulders.
Kellan slept hard through the top of the first and the first out of the bottom of the first. But then the stadium exploded when Torii Hunter hit a solo homerun…
…and Tim was rudely awakened.
Since Kellan was awake, we decided to go join Tim and my dad for the ice cream:
And then it was time for Kellan’s first ride on the tiger-go-round:
(Somehow, Kellan and Tim were nowhere near each other on the tiger-go-round and I was with Kellan, so I didn’t get any decent pictures of Tim on the tiger-go-round).
Our seats at this game were at the back of the bleachers in deep RCF, and we ended up sitting in those seats for a grant total of zero seconds. After ice cream, I asked my dad if he wanted to check out the SRO area in the cross-aisle where Kellan and I had spent a lot of time the day before, and he was interested. So this is where we spent a bunch of time during this game:
Hey, check out the drink holder that guy had to tote around the ballpark? Talk about awkward to carry!
Here’s what our view of home plate looked like:
By the way, the Tigers crowd booed Mauer like crazy every time he came to bat at both of our games in Detroit.
Tim is possibly the most skilled friend maker in the entire world. He is never shies away from talking to other kids of any age. So he had a great time chatting up this little guy standing next to us:
He kid’s mom was thrilled that we came and stood next to them. Apparently, the boy wasn’t doing well standing there with his parents, but he started having a great time when Tim started chatting with him. They talked about their respective little league teams and, you know, other kid stuff.
Remember that ball the fan gave to Tim two games (and days) ago in Toronto? Remember we gave it to my dad? Well, my dad ended up giving it to this kid. And he was excited to have it.
We were standing in the cross aisle just above the perfect spot for trying to get a third out ball from the Twins. With two outs in the bottom of one inning, I mentioned to Tim that he should get in position to run down to the bottom when the inning ended to try to get a third out ball. He misunderstood what I was saying and just cruised down the steps. He settled in here:
And he was essentially all alone in absolutely the best possible spot when Justin Morneau ended the inning at first base. But, sadly, Morneau walked right at Tim and then tossed the ball to a bunch of adults a little a few rows back and a couple seats over from Tim:
Tim only made that one attempt, and then we went off to explore the upper deck a bit. For some reason, my dad, Tim and Kellan walked the upper deck holding hands like this:
We popped into the seating area just in time to watch Torii Hunter at bat:
And then it was time for lunch. We headed back to the Big Cat court. Hot dogs were on the menu. Tim and Kellan feasted on standard hot dogs…
…and I had an extremely tasty Chicago Dog.
After lunch, we headed back to the SRO in the cross-aisle:
I took that panorama during the seventh inning streak, which means I have missed some scoring. By this point, the score as 6-1 Tigers, which ended up being the final score. The scoring high light came in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Avisail hit a bases loaded, 2-out, 3 run triple.
Here’s something I really like about Comerica Park’s new scoreboard:
The “Tigers” sign at the top of the scoreboard is an HD (well, I’m just guessing that it’s HD) screen so they can play video clips on the word “TIGERS.” That tiger above to the right isn’t new, I thought threw it in as an extra bonus.
I’m throwing this in as a bonus too:
“Cowboy” Joe West! He’s not the most beloved figure in baseball, but (1) I find him entertaining, (2) he’s never done anything (that I can recall) to hurt the Mariners unfairly, and (3) he’s been really nice to us. So I like him.
While hanging out in the cross-aisle, I took the opportunity to take an extreme close-up of Tim:
We ended the game behind the plate…
…but did not come away with an umpire ball.
The game ended in a somewhat frustrating fashion. Kellan, who is a super nice, lovable and usually easy going boy, is still in his “terrible twos.” Sometimes he can pitch a big old fit for no reason. And that’s just what he did at the end of the game. That’s no telling what started it, but he screamed and cried for a while, starting right before the game ended and it continued while we got in line for kids’ run the bases.
By the way, here is where we got in line…
…and he had to walk all the way around the inside of the stadium to the LF, and then exit the stadium, so we could enter a tunnel under the RF bleachers before finally entering the field in the RF corner¸ very near where we started standing in line here.
While Kellan continued to cry and whine and carry on, Tim made friends with another local kid:
They chatted all the way around the stadium.
The thing that finally calmed Kellan down was when I spoke to Colleen on the phone and she told me to tell him that she wanted him to run *really fast* around the bases. When he heard that, he settled down and was like “okay, I gotta get ready to run really fast for mommy!”
After entering the field down the RF line, I got a picture of the boys by this Comerica Park sign:
And then I started filming with my camera. I planned to film Kellan running around the bases, but, incredibly, (not realizing I already had the video running) I turned *off* the video right when Kellan hit first base and I turned it back *on* right after he touched home plate.
Aye, aye, aye…
Luckily, my dad got a couple pictures as we neared home plate…
…and I took one of the boys from behind on my cellphone as Kellan and Tim were approaching the plate.
After running the bases, we got a group picture…
…and couple more photos:
We had a long drive ahead of us. We would be driving back into Pennsylvania, but not all the way to our house. But we didn’t let that stop us from taking a quick side trip on the way out of town:
When we were in Canada, I told Tim we would go to a Tim Horton’s, but we totally forgot to do so. Luckily, I remembered this just before we passed what ended up being the last Tim Horton’s I saw on our trip. Check out what we got:
Tim was in Tim heaven!
And then we drove until around 11pm…
…when we got to our hotel in DuBois, PA (a very nice, new Fairfield Inn) the boys both woke up and were wide awake again. As Tim looked at his new Tigers baseball cards (a very nice set), Kellan took a late night bath.
When it hit midnight, it was officially my dad’s birthday! We were still all wide awake, so I decided we should give my dad a birthday gift that we’d had packed away in our luggage all weekend:
When he opened it, the gift appeared simply to be a commemorative 2013 All-Star Game ball, but he soon realized that there was a baseball ticket tucked into the display case with the ball.
The ticket was for the subway series (Mets vs. Yankees) at Citi Field, and game time was less than twenty hours away…so we had to head to bed!
Bonus birthday roadtrip baseball to come! (Oh, did I mention that, after crossing the Jays and Tigers off the list on this trip, the only teams my dad had never seen play a home game were the Mets and Rangers?)
2013 C&S Fan Stats
15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers
18 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4
45 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1
8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park
16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson
5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo
The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:
I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.
That’s all for now. Go Mariners!
In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina. Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves. The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.
So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened. As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…
…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort. That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!
We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…
…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.
A couple Nats were playing catch in RF. See that red arrow in the picture above? We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).
When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…
…and Kellan made that hilarious face.
Tim looked around and was all like…
…, “Where’s Mateo?”
As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game. So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on. But Mateo was nowhere to be found.
But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:
I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game). When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.
When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us. But he completely missed the upper deck. He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball. On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads. Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.
Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location. And guess who the two attempt making player was that time? The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!
After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF. Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…
…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole. In that picture above, an usher yell is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole. Booo!
The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day. The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line. Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall. Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.
When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:
As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!
But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up. We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line. But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout. I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there. Not of one of them was missing.
Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters). We headed off in search of pizza. Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk. So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:
We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole. In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water. He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.
After eating, it was getting close to game time. But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area. Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area. We’d have to wait to get in. So we decided to come back later. Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:
The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats. We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:
We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):
And, ever better, they were free!
Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long. Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.
While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:
The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman. The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.
Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF. At this game, he shifted over to RF:
You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture. In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole. He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.
In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit. He got the hit. But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact. So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:
And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area. This time, it was all clear. Tim got right in and went to the playing. Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet. So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…
…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.
After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:
Tim was doing some great catching. His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months. I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense. Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more. Now he loves to play catch. I love it.
As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene. I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…
…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board. I have no clue what happened. But it was pretty crazy to see.
We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate. But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat. It was the bottom of the fourth inning. And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead. I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.
Nope. He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.
I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman. When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed? The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.
So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade. But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook! So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:
After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole. Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen. We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck. I figured we would give it another shot.
We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats. Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…
…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.
We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings. The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.
We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…
…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.
We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area. The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers. He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.
But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt. While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys. I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen. I called out, “Hey, Nelson.” When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look. He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.
When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look. And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms. It was well past his normal nap time.
We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area. Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone. We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…
…and only Tim succeeded.
I got Harper grounding weakly again:
He reached first one a throwing error.
Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…
…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen. Kellan was still asleep at the time. I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.
I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”
I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.
We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:
A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.
By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.
Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on. No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:
We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.
We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…
…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.
No problem there. Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:
Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:
As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:
Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…
…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.
When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:
I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners. By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…
…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).
When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…
…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.
I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:
I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot. One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:
It was pretty funny. She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way. But he was having none of it. I think he was enjoying the ride. So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.
When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face. So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.
Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:
As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops. The boys loved them:
Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation. Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|15/13 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|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, 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 Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park. We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium. As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park. While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.
I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC. It all fell into place perfectly.
On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP. The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.
It turned out to be a very special time before the game started. Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys. Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.
By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance. I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day. Not quite. It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures. Aye, aye, aye! I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.
We started out in the LF corner. There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line. We made our way down into the first row:
[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan’s noggin]. There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching. The ballpark was completely silent. I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches. So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence. “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.
When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy. Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him. The section was silent no more. And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.
After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF. Section 237 to be exact. Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:
We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg. We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing. Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny. When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up. I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding. There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory). Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up. But his plan back fired. The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.
Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball. On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us. It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me. I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm. I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck. This was only our second ever. Very cool.
Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more. Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us. While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:
I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…
…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.
On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:
Kellan is way too small for the play area. So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…
…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.
After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat. We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B. We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:
Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line. I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.
As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us. I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…
…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too. So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right. Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.
Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch. Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan. Sanchez turned around and saw us. He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan. Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball. Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction. Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again. Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again. After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout. It was an awesome little interaction.
A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B. We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.
Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!
We decided to head back to the play area. On the way, a kind usher took our picture:
And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:
As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there. But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking. But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:
After Tim hit some whiffleballs….
…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.
It was getting really close to game time now. Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium. We planned to meet them in our seats. But first, we watched Mike Stanton…
…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…
…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.
As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats. Soon enough, Colleen arrived…
…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate. (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).
We had some great seats in section 108:
The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races. These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).
Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:
The Nationals got on the board first. In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.
Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived. But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine. I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):
A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.
In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.
After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…
…we took to our feet…
…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:
Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area. I had another idea. Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole. It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch. We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:
The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before. So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.
First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:
What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan. Funny. Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.
When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun. Stanton didn’t cooperate. So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:
After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:
We had no real plan. We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures. When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:
Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:
All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan. So he took a little nap…
…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.
When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought. I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:
Yikes! Oh, well. Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.
In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun. That made the score 4-3 Nationals. But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.
There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning. Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch. He ran to first, but the umpires called him back. I personally had no clue what was going on. But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point. The McKeon argument was humorous on its own. But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:
Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics. And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game. Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.
Not much else happened in the game. At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals
But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet. It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!
We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:
(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).
I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases. He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it. Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:
Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases. That killed the dream. Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own. He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him. I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?
While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…
…, and Gill…
…had a lot of fun on the base paths.
Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark. It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park. Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!
As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:
I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.
Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|21/10 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, Marlins, Nationals]|
|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)).|
|96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 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, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
|13/5 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, Nationals 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)|
|10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]|
|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|