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
We just returned from the Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. We attended games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (5/24/13), Comerica Park in Detroit (5/25-26/13), and Citi Field in New York (5/27/13). It will be a while before I have any of the blog entries up so I thought I’d share a little two photo teaser.
In 2009, we attended our first game ever at Rogers Centre and the ice cream helmets were decent, but nothing to write home about:
In 2013, the Blue Jays re-designed their uniforms with a retro Jays feel. Along with their fancy new duds came some great-looking new ice cream helmets:
Now there’s a helmet you can write home about. Heck, you can bring this helmet home to meet your parents!
Good job, Jays.
You can check out our entire MLB ice cream helmet collection at the Cook & Son Baseball Museum.
Tim has his first coach pitch game of the season today. His squad is called the Liberty Lightning. They had a great game and Colleen got a bunch of great shots of Tim playing the field. So Tim and I made a little video highlight reel tonight before bed. Here you go:
PS – Tim likes to jump for joy after making a good play (you might have noticed this).
PPS – Go Lightning!
Baseball season is back! It is an exciting time of year. It’s slowly but surely getting warmer in Pennsylvania. Tim is now playing coach pitch baseball in our local Little League. We’re playing a lot of baseball in the backyard. And, on April 6, 2013, Tim, Kellan and I hit up our first Major League Baseball game of the young 2013 season.
The whole day was good. Even having to pack all of our stuff into the car and drive…
…more than an hour to the game was great fun. We listed to music, most notably “Orion” by Metallica, which remind Tim of the constellation, Orion’s Belt, that his Grandma pointed out to him a year or so ago. We love listening to music in the car.
Tim and I played several of our standard car games too. You know, classic Cook Family car games like (i) the alphabet game (we go through the entire alphabet and each of us has to point out something starting with each letter of the alphabet), (ii) the number game (Tim calls out a number and then we have to spot it somewhere), and (iii) the turkey vulture game (see who can spot the most turkey vultures. We also played a new game that time made up, the rhyming game (it involved rhyming, if you can image that).
As you might have noticed from the picture above, our destination was Philadelphia. We arrived plenty early and had some fun hanging out at the LF gate:
Early season games are a little crazy for us because I end up brining about 10 changes of clothes – so we won’t get stuck in the wrong kind of weather. We had so much stuff for this game that my HUGE backpack couldn’t’ handle it all. So for the first time ever, Tim was in charge of his own stuff. As the workers prepared to let the fans into the ballpark…
…, Tim and I prepared our backpacks for their first security frisking of the season.
And then we headed for the LF corner, which was cold and shady:
We were in LF for until about 5 minutes before the Phillies opened the rest of the stadium, and almost nothing was going on. The Phils were hitting, a little. There might have been 2-3 homers hit to LF. Kyle Kendrick was running back-and-forth across the outfield warning track with a stop watch. In by the 3B dugout, two Royals (or Royals coaches) played catch with a football (pictured above with yellow arrow).
Finally, I made the call that it was time to head toward RF. We all jumped into the second row and took no more than two steps when a Phillies batter laced a ball down into the LF corner. Kellan was already up on my shoulders for the walk to RF. I told Tim to hold on. Kellan and I popped back over the row of seats to the front row, and Erik Kratz tossed us our first baseball of the season. (pictured above with other yellow arrow).
We headed over to RF with a few minutes to spare before the seats were opened to the fans. We had just enough time to buy a big bottle of water. And then we headed down to the tip of the pizza wedge. We staked out some prime real estate in section 101.
Within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lunched a towering fly ball right at us. I didn’t have to move my feet at all. But I didn’t think it would carry far enough. I leaned forward to try to backhand the ball over the fence, but then it carried a bit further than I expected. I ended up making the UGLIEST chest high, backhanded, two handed catch of all time. When it was all said and done, but ball was right on my palm and about 80% of the ball was hanging outside of my glove. But I caught it.
Down below us, Raul Valdes was walking from CF to the warning track below us to grab a ball that rolled to a stop out there. He watched me catch the ball and then he picked up the other ball and tossed it up to Tim. Tim made a great sure-handed catch with his trusty glove.
I handed the homerun ball to Kellan and the boys posed with their prizes:
Then we started about the most peaceful 45 minutes or so of all time. The sun was shining and it was nice and warm. There were tons of fans in LF, but RF was still fairly quiet. We just sat and relaxed and the Phils chatted to each other below…
…and Cliff Lee ran back-and-forth from the RF foul line to CF.
I got two awesome pictures of Kellan just chilling:
We watched some groundskeepers water the bullpen (including watering the bottom mound from the top bullpen)…
…and Tim made funny shadows in the bullpen grass.
The Royals pitchers started throwing down the LF line while the Phillies were wrapping up BP. By the time the Phillies retreated from the field…
…the Royals were playing long toss. Ah, baseball stuff. Gotta love long toss, right?
That Phillies player running off the field in the last photo was Antonio Bastardo. I took his picture because he had just made me laugh. As he started to clear the field, he grabbed one last baseball from the warning track and threw it to a kid (maybe 13-14 year old) about 15-20 seats down from us. He hit the guy right in the chest. The ball rattled around in the kid’s glove, but then fell to the ground in the first row. Bastardo saw the kid botch the easy catch and said loudly, but to himself, “Come on, bro!” with a sound a legitimate disappointment and then he sprinted to the dugout.
Royals BP was a lot of fun. They hit very few homeruns, and nothing remotely near us. But the stadium just had a great, relaxed, first-weekend-of-the-new-baseball-season vibe.
The only down point was that some random kid jumped over the second row of seats and stood right between Tim and Kellan for a while:
It was very odd because the rest of the front row in section 101 was wide open.
Jeremy Guthrie was out in RF having fun with some teammate…
…and another big group of guys were socializing in CF.
A Royals coach who was wearing a catchers’ glove (pictured above standing behind Guthrie) ran out to CF to grab a few stray balls and he tossed on of them to us.
When we said hi, Guthrie gave the boys and I a big wave, smile and “Hi!” A little while later, he came over and tossed a ball up to us.
Thanks, Jeremy! Good luck this season!
Eventually, our buddy, Tang, from Kansas City wandered by and joined us in the pizza wedge. Kellan had asked to sit on my lap for a while, so I had Tang take out picture:
Toward the end of BP, Luke Hochevar tried to throw a baseball to Tim, but he threw it too high and it sailed right over Tim. Kellan and I were eating some snacks and I had a hand full of food. I helplessly tried to slap the ball down as it sailed past Tim, but it was a lost cause.
We shrugged it off and moved on with life. But Hochevar wasn’t satisfied. He called over to a teammate in straightaway RF who had just fielded a ball. Hochevar gave his teammate the universal throw-me-that-baseball glove flap. The teammate tossed it over and Hochevar made a perfect second throw to Tim. And Tim squeezed it into this glove with no problem.
Double thanks, Luke!
And that was all for BP.
I asked Tang if he would help us out with a photo we needed for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. He kindly agreed. We decided to trudge all the way up to the upper deck for the photo. On the way, we witnessed a tragic and fatal fire far off in the distance.
Up in the upper deck, we Tim and Kellan got their picture with Tang (another MBG.com member) with every drink holder in the row filled with a baseball:
While I was taking the picture, an usher offered to take one of all of us. We happily took him up on his offer and he did a first rate job:
Then we went over to the tip of the upper deck version of the pizza wedge and looked down at the odd angles of Citizens Bank Park:
Then, at Tim’s request, we headed up to the last row of the upper deck and I got a picture looking over the back of the seats down to the “Games of Baseball” and Bull’s BBQ area:
Once we made it back down to the field level, Tang split off from us and we headed over so the kids could play the running game:
The boys played the running game a few times and the quiz game a couple times. And then it was time for the game to start.
We headed over to section 112 where it looked like this:
Check out Tim’s *pro* SRO form:
And here was the first pitch of our 2013 baseball season:
John Lannan to Alex Gordon for Ball 1. Eventually, Gordon would go down on strikes.
Then we headed to the kids’ play area:
Quite oddly (note, this was only the second home game of the season for the Phillies), the TV in the play area was not working. So I had no clue whatsoever what was happening in the game as the boys played for a while. Eventually, I would find out that *nothing* was happening.
While in the play area, I reorganized all of our stuff and came to a horrifying realization: we had lost Kellan’s glove! When I realized this I rounded up the boys and we began retracing our tracks.
Eventually, I figured that maybe we left it down in section 101 during BP. As we approached the top of section 101, I started to ask the two ushers if anyone had found a kid’s glove. But before the words could come put, I saw Kellan’s glove tucked into some a bag (or something) hanging on the fence railing at the top of section 101.
That was a big relief!
We decided to celebrate with ice cream. Tim convinced me that the old switcheroo (desert before dinner) was in order. It made complete sense. We would eat ice cream before it got too cold, then we’d eat a warm dinner later.
Even though it as only the second home game of the season, there were tons of empty seats in the upper deck. So we decided that we would get our ice cream down the 3B line (our normal spot0 and then head upstairs to eat it.
On our way to the ice cream place, we noticed that the “Schmitter” stand moved during the offseason and a Federal Donuts is now in the old Schmitter spot:
But, nevermind, we had more important things to think about: Ice Cream.
We were greeted at our standard ice cream spot, by our standard ice cream lady with a very non-standard ice cream option. Behold, the beautiful and wonderful new $9 jumbo Phillies cookie sundae ice cream helmet:
That guy consists of two huge cookies, a healthy (or unhealthy?) heaping helping of hand-dipped chocolate ice cream (no soft serve here), caramel sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles!!!
While this monster of a sundae is more expensive than a standard ice cream helmet, it is big enough that we only needed one to share between the three of us. And just check out that beautiful two-tone helmet!
I smashed out tray and folded it in half and it made a perfect table for the boys to share the sundae:
And check out our beautiful view from the very back row of section 433:
I always love it when you can look down on the top of the foul pole:
And Tim always loves it when there are huge chunks of cookies in his ice cream!
Seriously, after Tim’s very first bite of this sundae, he proclaimed (almost involuntarily), “THIS IS AWESOME!”
After the ice cream, it was about the 4-5 inning, the score was still 0-0, and the boys were officially freezing from the ice cream. They threw on their winter jackets…
…and we headed off in search of that warm dinner. As we walked around toward RF, the Royals scored two runs and the Phils scored 1. I was on the phone with my wife, we couldn’t see the field, and we had no idea that anything had happened. I literally started to tell Colleen that the score was still 0-0 when I looked up and saw the score and was like, “Whaaaaaaatt? Huh?”
I still have no clue how those runs were even scored.
After scrapping the initial plan of nachos, and the second plan of pizza, Tim settled on…
…hot dogs! We went up to the walkway way out in CF to eat. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy out there and the SRO counter was too tall for Tim. We ate sitting on the ground. Eventually, Tim spilled most of his food on the floor. Ooops.
We went to the team store to warm up a bit…
…and the Royals scored again (on back-to-back doubles by Francoeur and Miggy Tejada). I figured that at some point this season, we’d finally see some scoring in person. I was right.
We decided to go meet up with Tang in section 132. Until the inning break, we watched the game from the SRO area behind section 131:
Each half inning in the 8 and 9, we keep working our way closer to the home plate end of the visitors dugout.
During a momentary break in the action, I got this random photo of Frenchy chatting up the home plate up, Jeff Kellogg:
Maybe that’s not very exciting, but I liked it and thought I’d share it.
Here was our view in the top of the ninth with the Royals up 3-1:
I should note that the fans started racing for the gates when it hit the ninth inning. It was a little sad. Such a short time ago the Phillies fans believed the Phils could win every game. Now they are giving up and heading for the doors when down by only 2 runs in only the second home game of the year!
Well, guess what? Those fans missed out. Because after Eric Hosmer made the last out of the top of the ninth…
…, the Royals’ closer, Greg Holland, walked three Phillies (Utley, Howard and Michael Young) in a row to start the bottom of the ninth. Holland then struck out Dominic Brown and John Mayberry, in pretty embarrassing fashion too.
It all came down to pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen. On Holland’s first pitch, Frandsen laced a ball into the RF gap. Everyone was already on their feet, including us, and a distressed Tang who wanted his Royals to pull out the victory. On contact I announced (to myself), “Well, we have a tie game.”
But somehow the ball rattled around in RF or the outfielders were sluggish and Michael Young motored around all the way from first base for the walk off win.
What fans were still in attendance were going B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
After the game, we all tried to make it down near the umpires’ tunnel, but there was just too much celebrating to get through the crowd down there. The four of us (Tang included) settled into a spot just above the dugout where the players head down the steps into the clubhouse.
The Royals high tailed it out of there. Eventually, a bat boy stuck his head out and started throwing about 7-8 balls into the crowd, including one to us and one to Tang.
I had Tang take one last wintry looking picture of us above the dugout:
Then, right as we started to leave, another baseball started rolling across the top of the dugout. A loud and crazy adult fan grabbed and handed it to Tim. I suggested we give it away to another kid, but Tim wanted to save it for autographs…so we did.
We said our goodbyes with Tang, and headed to our car. Minutes later, the boys were out like a light. Sweet dreams, boys!
And then, as I traditionally do, I called and chatted with my mom on the drive home.
It was a nice day of baseball, and it was great to be back at the ballpark again after a long winter.
NOTE: This is the fan ball from the end of the game. It is very suspicious to me. It is obviously game rubbed up. It also has two big reddish smudges on it, which to me clearly means it was used in the game. It might be a ball that was fouled straight back against the net. However, those are usually rolled over to the MLB authenticators on the 1B side dugout, I believe. One other theory has bounced around in my brain: it could be the ball that Frandsen hit to win the game, which the game tape shows ended up with the Royals catcher, Salvador Perez, and entered the Royals dugout. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
2 Teams – Royals, Phillies
1 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo)
7 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3
1 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park
My friend, Alan Schuster, created and runs MyGameBalls.com. It’s a great site for baseball fans who like to attend games in person and come away with a few spheroidal souvenirs. We’ve met some great guys through Alan’s site. I like to do what I can to give back to the site. This offseason that took the form of writing a short article that is currently posted on the site. Go over to MyGameBalls.com and check it out.
Here’s the article in its entirety (although you should really go to the site to read it. Here, just click the picture below and you’ll magically be transported through time and space, all the way to MyGameBalls.com):
As the title of our blog suggests, our blog is about one thing: our family’s baseball adventures. I don’t write about trades or trade rumors, MVP debates, player values, or Hall of Fame elections. I have strong feelings about all of those things. But I’m not a sportswriter. It’s not my job to tell people what I think they should think about the current happenings in our great sport. There are hordes of paid sportswriters for that. I’m here to document my family’s personal baseball history, and that’s about it.
This makes the offseason pretty quiet around here.
But there is baseball and baseball stuff going on in the Cook household year round. I recently wrote about Tim’s first winter clinic for his little league. There will be another clinic in a couple weeks, and we’re eagerly looking forward to it.
In my downtime, I’m still working away updating our Baseball Logs (which I get behind on during the season) and our online Baseball Museum, and planning our 2013 season (fyi, be on the lookout for three generations of Cook boys in the Lone Star state in 2013). But lately, there are two additional baseball items taking up some of my time and, since they fall in line with the concept of documenting our personal baseball history, I thought I’d do a short update about them.
Spike Owen was my original all-time favorite baseball player. I have two distinct “where was I when” memories about Spike. I was standing right here…
…at my elementary school (there used to be a baseball field there) when my assistant baseball coach explained that Spike Owen played short stop for the Mariners (fyi, I played short stop for the Sherwood Eagles!) and he wore number 7 (fyi, I also wore number 7!). From that very moment, Spike was instantly my favorite player. Several years later (1986), I was in the basement of my family home (sitting on a cabinet/desk thingy to be exact), when my buddy, Dan Mosely, called to tell me the unthinkable: Spike Owen was traded to the Boston Red Sox! By this time, I was already a huge Mariners fan, but had never paid any attention to the postseason. As a result of Spike’s traded to the Red Sox, I watched the World Series for the first time ever and REALLLLLY wanted Boston to win.
After 1986 (with no internet), it became pretty hard to follow Spike Owen, particularly during his years in Montreal. Basically, all I could do was read box scores in the newpaper (people used to do that in the 1980s).
While Spike became my absentee-favorite ballplayer, over the next several years, I never officially announced a new favorite Mariner. In retrospect, it was clearly Harold Reynolds. That is, it was Harold Reynolds until 1989, when Ken Griffey, Jr. showed up on the scene. Since 1989, Griff has held the title of my all-time favorite player and, unless Tim and/or Kellen make the pros, I assume he always will be my favorite baseball player.
So, why am I spending time thinking about Spike and Harold all of these years later? Let’s start with Spike.
I have been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for a number of years now (4 or 5 years, I guess). But I’ve never been an active participant in SABR. However, recently I have been chatting with another local SABR member who is active in the SABR BioProject. Through the BioProject, SABR is trying to have its members write 1,500+ word biographies of EVERY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER EVER!!! (plus, managers, umpires, owners, etc., etc.) They have a loooooooooooooong way to go to reach that goal. So, I decided to get involved.
When I first considered getting involved, I quickly realized that the only way it would interest me is if I could have my participation in the BioProject compliment my efforts to document our family’s personal baseball history. My first assignment of choice became clear: I would volunteer to write the BioProject biography of the man who played a foundational role in my life-long love of baseball and the Mariners, Spike Owen.
Shortly after putting in the request, I was officially assigned the Spike Owen biography by the BioProject Committee. Lately, I have been researching Spike’s career (and life) via the internet and I have learned a whole lot of stuff I never knew about Spike. I thought I would share a few interesting things I have uncovered. My favorite old article I have found (from shortly before Spike’s call up to the Mariners) highlights the relationship between Spike and his minor league roommate and double play partner, Harold Reynolds:
Two other interesting notes, (i) Spike was the short stop for the Expos during Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez’s perfect game in 1991 and (ii) Spike was the Captain of the 1982 Texas Longhorns baseball team where his teammates included his future 1986 Red Sox teammates, Roger Clemens and Calvin Schiraldi.
Spike’s relationship with Harold Reynolds extended beyond the minors. Spike was called up to the Mariners before Harold. Spike played about 60 games for the Mariners in 1983 before Harold was called up and played his first game on September 2, 1983. Interestingly, Harold made his Major League debut as a pinch runner for Ken Phelps following an at-bat when Phelps pinch hit for Spike. Three days later, Harold started his first game for the Mariners. Spike hit lead off with Harold in the nine-hole, meaning that Spike was on deck when Harold had his first career at-bat in the Major Leagues. Twelve years later, Harold played his final game in the Major Leagues as the starting second basemen for the California Angels. His teammate and starting third basemen for the Angels that day: Spike Owen.
Let’s talk some Harold Reynolds.
Harold played almost his entire career for the Mariners. He was awesome. People in Seattle loved him (at least that was my perception at the time, I certainly loved the guy). He collected over 1,000 career hits for the Mariners, he was a 2-time All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove winner for the M’s. Plus, he won the 1991 Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable efforts.
It has never made sense to me that Harold has never been inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame. He is an obvious choice to me.
So, last year, I created a Twitter account called @HR4MarinersHOF with the intent of posting pro-Harold tidbits as a sort of grassroots campaign to get Harold enshrined in the Mariners Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, almost immediately after I created the account and started posting a few Harold factoids, the Mariners announced that Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson (both great choices, as well) would be enshrined as new Marines Hall of Famers during the summer of 2012. So, I decided to put @HR4MarinersHOF on hold until the 2013 Major League campaign.
Now is the time. If you’re a Mariners fan and appreciate what Harold did for the Mariners, please give @HR4MarinersHOF a follow, a tweet, a retweet, or whatever you want to do to voice your feelings about Harold Reynolds and the Mariners Hall of Fame.
Happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2013!
So it’s cold these days in Pennsylvania. We’ve been playing a lot of catch with foam and plush baseballs in the kids’ playroom. But it has been a while since we’ve been able to get out in the backyard for some real baseball.
And just as the metaphorical winter rust was starting to form, along came Tim’s Little League, Liberty Youth Baseball, with its Winter Clinic! We all met up at the Life Sports Center at Albright College. The clinic started out with a little pep talk from Liberty’s fearless leader, Jason Weigand (in blue), and…
…Kutztown University’s head baseball coach, Chris Blum.
The indoor training facility was really big and cool. It was split into four separate areas. After the boys split into groups, each group headed off to one of five stations.
Tim was in the youngest group. Most of his ground were 5-6 year olds and a couple were 7-8 (I think). Their group started in the hitting station.
First, a coach went over the proper grip of the baseball bat, stance at the plate, and swing:
Next, half of Tim’s group went to a batting cage and the other half went to a group of three batting tees. Unfortantely, I was chatting with someone while Tim was in the cage hitting live pitching (thrown by former Major Leaguer, Eric Valent,) and I forgot to get a picture of him hitting. But here he is exiting the cage after his final hack:
Although he hadn’t hit live pitching in probably a month, Tim hit pretty well.
And then it was off to the batting tees:
By the way, I only had my phone to take pictures and this training facility has huge windows all the way down both sides of the building…so it was tough to get pictures that were even half-way decent.
And here is my favorite picture that I go today:
After everyone in the group had hit in the cage and at the batting tees, all of the groups switched stations. Tim’s group moved all the way to the other end of the building…
…where they practiced fielding grounders…
…and making the throw to first base (although, in reality, it was more like throwing to third):
All of my fielding pictures were blury, but here is one of my favorites:
The next station was pitching and catching. But the 7-8 year old division in Liberty (which will be Tim’s division for the 2013 season) is coach pitch, so Tim’s group just practiced catching:
The day after our final MLB game of the season, Tim got a new Tim Lincecum signature glove that he’s still getting use to. But he did a good job catching normal throws and little pop flies tossed by Eric:
Tim really likes playing catch now. I love it.
The next station was practicing baserunning. Once again, I was busy chatting. I failed to take any pictures during the baserunning station.
At the final station, the boys practiced taking grounders and fly balls like they were playing in the outfield. After fielding the ball, the boys practiced making strong throws in to the infield:
The most amusing part of this station was that the kids were also supposed to be practing calling the ball like an outfielder. The comical part was that the boys were screaming out, “I got it!” and “Mine!” while they were at the back of the line, but then you could hardly hear the boy at the front of the line calling the ball. and a lot of them wouldn’t call “I got it” until right after they caught the ball.
Here’s another shot of Tim winding up for a big throw:
After the final station, the boys gathered again for a few parting words…
…and then they came in for a big “Liberty” chant:
And that was that. A great clinic. Lots of fun.
On the walk back to our car, Tim posed with a nice silver fire hydrant:
(If you haven’t noticed yet, getting his picture with fire hydrants is kinda Tim’s thing).
On our way home, we stopped off at the local Rawlings outlet store. And then we capped the afternoon off with a 1-on-1 game of baseball in the backyard while Kellan napped. We practiced all of the techniques taught during the clinic and Tim was looking really good as he beat me in our game — of course, he never actually let me bat.
We’re aleady looking forward to the next Liberty clinic in January!