I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work. Soon, my plans would change.
I received a call in the morning. One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office. Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:
Tim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club. Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites. The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way. You can see that here.
The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating. The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all. Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.
For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole. But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…
…the wall is pretty cool. However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls. They were never used. I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.
I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…
Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool. But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used. I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc. Still, its a cool bar.
So, we made our way into the suite. The Phils were hosting the Giants. The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.
As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food. After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course. Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:
This may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night. He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.
He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…
One note about that picture. You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire. I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game. There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any). But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.
Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed. We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite. As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.
As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender. (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender). He was a nice guy. He was a school teacher at a high school in the city. His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings. He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium. Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite. He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team. Nice.
So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…
…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.
Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim. But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.
Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area. When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…
…in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level. He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite. Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.
Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game. Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied. Eventually, we headed into extra innings. Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.
Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero. That was it for us. With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.
As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs. When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.! M.V.P.! M.V.P.!” Chase Utley was up. Soon the crowd erupted. I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out. Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.
Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy. He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.
Ah, good times.
On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.
All of the Cooks were in attendance:
Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier. It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.
Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:
We sat in Section 235, Row 9:
This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park. I really liked these seats. Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us. Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.
Speaking of views, here was our view:
Check out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during pennant race! At this point, the Phils were still six games back. Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.
In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty. Not even close. The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.
Anyway, back to the game. I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…
Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball. It was great, Tim was having a blast…
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis. Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run. Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run. Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.
With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…
And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…
…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up. One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs. That would certainly be memorable.
The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day. But it didn’t matter. He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.
Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…
…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.
Yep. It was a good day.
By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left? I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game. I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion. I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect. (Side note: the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave).
Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.