On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game. I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend. It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets. We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets. But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).
In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game. If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).
It was a drizzly morning. We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice. When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all. But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.
I had no clue who he was. But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…
As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived. In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.
When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”
And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:
After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF. We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen. But then some Marlins came out. Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin. So we headed back over to LF.
We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock. So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…
We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before). I used my zoom to figure out…
Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field. Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag. There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us. As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”
Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim. I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…
100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!
After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”
Wow – that’s cool!
We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by. We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs. This ball was from Cleveland.).
Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:
Finally, we met up with Poppy. I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry. After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy. First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument. We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:
Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.
Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me. Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm. Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way. I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.
Oh, well, on with the stadium tour. We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan). Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…
…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma). The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment. After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast. So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey. The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C. Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.
Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy. They’d marry. Have a daughter. Have another daughter. Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle. The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid. They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006. Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game. And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began. And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.
Here was their view:
Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…
This is what it looked like as we watched the game:
Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…
…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season. In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open. Four year olds are easily entertained.
There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…
…a squirrel ran across the outfield. Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen. They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.
Hey, there was a game played too.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house. And he brought a big bat with him…
Then things got a little interesting. Bonafacio stole second. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.
Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed. Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do. Bonafacio had his afterburners on. I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!” And that is just what he did. He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball. This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:
Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…
Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings. And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth. None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).
So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.
In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…
And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…
Yeah, we were having fun. It was a great day:
Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.
In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area. That’s when the drama began. Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him. On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.
He went crazy with the water works.
It was legitimate water works. He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.
Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area. He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids. So that’s what we did. He was still huff’n and puff’n.
As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…
The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues. In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side. Between the bandaids and the cup…
We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again. He hit this foul ball…
Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:
Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball. But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.
We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen. With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats. Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us. As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected. Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.
This was our view from section 124:
With all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was. I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us. I guess that foul ball really helped us out. Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.
Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.” We were in the “really fancy seats.”
However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game. Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed. But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.
We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:
Those stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats. An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt. I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.
First, Tim did some kung fu:
After Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned. We rushed down the stairs. The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field. As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.
All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot. In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture. That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.
Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball. It is close to guaranteed.
And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…
Thanks, Wally Bell!
Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy. We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF. But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park. We had to get a picture:
Sounds good to us!
It was dark in there. These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:
That bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park. The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club. To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.
To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows. In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…
It was pretty sweet in there. One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games. Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.
Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!
This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).
Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:
Running the bases, as always, was awesome:
A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:
We got our 100th baseball.
Spent some great quality time with Poppy.
Visited the Lexus Club.
Ran the Bases.
Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark? Not much.
It was another great MLB anniversary.
2010 Fan Stats:
20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)
58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)
15 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
10 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
On June 3, 2009, I knocked off work early and Tim and I trekked down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C to witness a piece of history — Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory. However, the rain put the kibosh on our plans.
July 19th was our make-up game. Instead of seeing Randy Johnson’s 300th win, we saw Kevin Hart’s third. It was a fun game — but as the math would reveal, it was about 100 times less memorable than if we would have got to see Randy’s big win.
The process of exchanging our rain out tickets for these tickets was made 50,000 times more difficult due to the inadequacies of the Washington Nationals telephone system. I called them at about 4-5 different numbers I found on their website. They all led to the same automated phone system. No humans ever answered. I was dumped into a “general” voicemail box and none of my calls were returned until I got creative. Eventually the team store gave me the number 202-640-7000. From that number, you can get a company phone directory. I went through the front office directory on MLB.com and entered random Nationals employees into the phone directory. The first 3-4 employees went straight to voicemail. I was beginning to think that no one actually worked at Nationals Park. Eventually, I reached someone. She told me I could only make the exchange at the box office at the stadium and they wouldn’t hold tickets aside for me — just in case I didn’t show up. So I was stuck driving 2.5 hours not knowing if they’d have any cheap seats to exchange for our cheapseats tickets.
When we got there, they didn’t. All the cheap seats were sold out. So we had to get tickets about twice as expensive as our original tickets. This was frustrating. I pulled out my card to pay the extra money for the more expensive tickets. The guy asked me if I was buying more tickets. “No.” “Then you don’t need your card.”
It was the first good moment in the whole process: they made a straight exchange for my cheap seats tickets. This made me happy. A small amount of redemption. But the Nationals as an organization have a long way to go to get back in my good graces. The handling of the rainout and then the unanswered phone messages and emails did a lot of damage.
Anyway, there is a game to report. Let’s get to it.
To add to my already mounting frustration while heading down to the game, I missed the exit from I-95 to I-295. So I had no clue how to get to the Park. I saw an exit sign that said “To Naionals Park.” So I took it. Then I drove around totally clueless for about 15 minutes until I magically popped out of nowheresville and onto a bridge heading straight to Nationals Park. This is what I saw:
We entered the stadium and there was a lot of hoopla going on — the Nats fans and employees were all jazzed up for the beginning of the game (FYI, we got there about 10 second before the Nats took the field):
Often times, we walk into a game and Tim instantly informs me, “I want ice cream!” Today to my surprise, he told me, “I want ice cream, after we eat lunch.” He wanted chicken strips and fries, which interestingly is what we had at our only other game at Nationals Park.
We bought the chicken and fries and sat in the handicap accessible seats behind 1B field level seats. This was our view:
At our first game here, the attendants were dictators. They checked tickets everywhere. I had to sweet talk a guy to let Tim and I sit in the LAST ROW of the upper deck to eat Tim’s ice cream helmet. I was happy to find the stadium much more relaxed at this game.
Here is Tim between french fries:
Tim was a little camera shy today. He was all smiles and laughs all day except when the camera looked his way. This is serious Tim.
I am excited for this entry because I felt like I got a lot of good action shots at this game. Here is the first:
Okay. So there really isn’t much *action* going on here. But I wanted to get a picture of Nick Johnson and give him big SeaTown props. Both today and at our last game at Nationals Park, N-John came to the plate accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.“
Soon, the action picked up: Alfonso Soriano hit a double:
Soriano seemed to be the only big name in the Cubs line-up. I’m not up on the Cubs. I’m not sure where everyone else was — no Aramis Ramirez and no Milton Bradley. So my Cubs photos focused on Soriano. He looks like he is going to hit a bomb on every swing he takes.
While sitting here, I noticed that the out-of-town scoreboard was telling a happy story:
After eating, Tim wanted to go check out the play area in CF:
The play area is the red and blue thing to the far right of the picture. To the left, there are some big signs with all of the 30 MLB team logos. Usually each stadium has the team flags or logos in order of the current standings. Nationals Park just has the logos. Not sure why.
When we arrived at the play area, they had just told everyone to clear out. Some kid had spilled some bodily fluids (not sure what) out there and they brought the hazmat trucks in to clean up.
So we stood in straight away CF and watched the game. This was our view:
It was a good thing we got booted out of the play area or we would have missed Soriano hitting a bomb in his second at bat:
In the interest of full disclosure, the top left picture is actually a foul ball right before the HR. But the top right, is the actual HR swing. A pretty sweet swing. I thought we were in Chicago — the whole stadium went crazy!
Did I mention that I love my new camera? Check out these floating ball shots I took from straight away CF:
After we got these shots, it was time for the play area:
The most frequently broken rule? No. 8 — no food or drink in the play area. The violators: Moms and Dads. Not this one.
After a little while, play time was done and it was off to the RF seats for us. Here is an interesting picture of Tim that I took through his seat:
Can you tell what Tim is doing in this picture?
In the picture to the left, Tim is holding out his spoon after telling me to take a picture of his ice cream. By the way, for the first time ever, he went with Cookies’n’Creme — and he loved it. In the picture to the right, Tim is all concerned that I missed getting a picture of the ice cream on his spoon. He was very invested in that shot and was upset by the idea that I might have missed it. As you can see, I nailed it!
This was our view from our ice cream seats:
Unfortunately, Adam Dunn couldn’t quite find the seats in this at bat:
[NOTE: click on picture to enlarge. You’ll be able to see the ball in the top picture right at the bottom of the “T” in “Tickets.”]
Check out all of these empty seats:
See the yellow circle at the bottom right? That’s where Tim and I sat for the ninth inning.
So, all season, I’ve been trying to get a good action shot of an outfielder catching a fly ball. Its harder than it sounds because you don’t know when a ball will be hit to any given outfielder. Somehow, I got two decent shots at this game:
In the top picture, the ball has just hit the leather of Soriano’s glove. In the bottom picture, you can see the ball a couple feet above Adam Dunn.
While we were sitting in these seats, we noticed the Nats bullpen catcher would sometimes throw his warm up ball into the stands after warming up Josh Willingham in RF. Tim wanted to play catch. So we decided to give it one shot at a ball before going to find a spot to play catch. It worked like this:
As far as I can tell, the Nats bullpen catcher is former career minor leaguer, Nelson Robledo. We were sure to thank Mr. Robledo for his kindness.
Then it was off to play catch by the batting cages in CF:
In the middle picture, Tim is showing his pitching leg kick. He just learned his pitching motion in the last couple weeks. I didn’t teach it to him. He just copied what he saw me and other pitchers doing. He does a full wind-up at time too. These pictures are poor quality because we were in a dark hallway type-area. Eventually, we were told not to play catch in there — “BOO, NATIONALS! BOO!” If we can play catch in a busy area of a bustling new Yankee Stadium without incident or reprimand, surely we should be able to play catch in an empty area of Nationals Park.
Next, we headed up to the Red Porch to watch the game with the party people in the house. People were having a good time up there. This was our view:
…and here is what it looks like up on the Red Porch:
Next, we headed over to the seats behind the Cubs’ dugout. Here is a panaramic from the top of the aisle:
When I took this picture, Tim was sitting on my shoulders. I was sure this guy in the yellow shirt and Nats hat to the far right was going to kick us out of the section and tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders. Last time we were here, that is certainly what would have happened. However, he did just the opposite. He told me, “You have your hands full, why don’t you grab a seat.” Excellent idea. Thanks.
I grabbed some seats in the fourth row.
They gave us an excellent view of Notre Dame football start Jeff Samardzija:
Hey, did I mention that future Mariners Hall of Famer, Sweet Lou Piniella was in the house?
…Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
And it was time for Kids Run the Bases:
The gal standing on the grass by first base in the Nats jersey is in the process of shouting, “MARINERS!!!” I didn’t get her back story, but she said the Mariners are her favorite team. Good to see we’ve infiltrated the Nationals!
Here is Tim at first base:
Tim ran about 10 feet passed first base and than stopped. He turned around and he yelled that he wanted me to run with him. He came back over to me and I explained that only kids can run the bases so I couldnt’ run with him. In an odd twist, Tim decided he didn’t want to run without me on this day. So we just walked around the track and looked at everything.
I got this picture of the Nats doing some field touch-ups:
And with that, we left Nationals Park for the final time this season.
But before heading home, we decided to go see a few other attractions in the D.C. area — you might have heard of them:
Tim loved the fountains at the WWII memorial.
Eventually, we had to hit the road to head home. We had directional difficulties on the way down, so we decided to have some more on the way home. This is an easy drive. I’m not sure what the hecked I was thinking. All I had to do was head up I-695 and connect to I-83 in Baltimore.
Sadly, I missed the I-695 turn off from I-95. No problem. I figured I’d just head into Baltimore and connect to I-83 downtown…by this:
The Baltimoreans decided it would be an excellent idea to put a street festival on the street leading to the I-83 entrance. Hey, no problem. I was looking for an opportunity to detour all around downtown Baltimore.
Oh, well. Here are our goodies for the day:
[Note: Ball from Robledo, ice cream helmet, exchanged ticket showing $0.00, and Nationals give-away of insulated lunch bags].
Season Fan Stats:
19 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
14 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
15 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
Wow – its been two weeks since our last MLB game, and it feels like its been forever. But we finally made it back out to the ball field on June 28th.
I am dedicating this entry to my wonderful pooch, Kirby, who, due to a family vacation and this game that coincided with our return drive north, unfortunately had to spend his 12th birthday with his buddies at the Pet Spa & Resort.
Due to the fact we were returning from a family vacation, you’ll also notice below that Tim and I were accompanied by our lovely mother and wife, respectively, Colleen. This was only our second game with Colleen this season — usually our games double as a way to give Colleen and “off-day” on the weekend — and her first at Camden Yards since J.J. Putz blew Felix Hernandez’s 8-inning shutout gem during the M’s first road trip of the 2008 season.
We usually drive South to Camden Yards and park in a parking garage downtown. This day, we drove north to the game, and parked in one of the stadium lots off of I-395. So our walk from the car to the field looked different — but from any angle, its always nice to gaze upon Camden Yards:
After reading the Happy Youngster’s entry for the June 10th Mariners game at Camden Yards, I realized that I have never taken Tim to the home plate entrance at Camden Yards. So, we remedied that today:
In this picture we are standing in “Schaefer Circle.”
See those plaques on either side of the canopy-covered entrance? Here they are up close and personal:
(click to enlarge)
I’m guessing that it is not a coincidence that this plaque listing, among other individuals, Governing William Donald Schaefer is hanging about 30 yards away from “Schaefer Circle.”
On the drive up to Baltimore — or maybe it was leaving Baltimore, I’m not sure — Colleen mentioned that she took 700+ pictures during our vacation (we like taking pictures!), but that we didn’t get a single family picture. Well, 3 minutes after entering the stadium, we got our first:
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
Two minutes later, we were in the kids’ play area and Tim was having fun:
Soon, the game started and we grabbed some chicken strips and fries, and some seats down the RF line. Here was our view for about 4 minutes:
We only sat here for about 4 minutes because it was too sunny for Tim. He looked to the left and saw some shady seats that are under the second level overhang. He suggested: “Let’s go sit in the deep, dark shade.” We obliged, and this is what it looked like:
Once we got over there and finished our chicken and fries, we grabbed some non-helmeted ice cream. Here are a couple shots of our seats in the deep, dark shade:
Regarding the picture to the far left, I wanted to point out the large padding on the second level support beam above the back row. To use a Tim’ism, I’m guessing there were a few heads *bonked* on that beam in the early days that led to the installation of that padding.
While we were sitting here, the Orioles’ Bird came to visit a young fan who was celebrating his birthday at the game. Tim got a quick picture with the Bird:
But soon, as it always does, the flag pavillion a/k/a Eli Jacobs Plaza started calling Tim’s name:
Who is Eli Jacobs, you ask? Well, according to the plaque above, he was the Chairman of the Orioles in 1992 when Camden Yards was built. Ah, always great to name stuff after yourself! I think I’ll continue to refer to it as the “flag pavillion.”
[SIDE NOTE: I just wrote a big section that was magically deleted. Yea technology!]
Before arriving at the flag pavillion, I took this picture of Nick Markakis.
Why Markakis? He was near by. I don’t care about the Nationals or the Orioles, but I figured I needed a picture of someone playing baseball to properly demonstrate that there was some major league baseball taking place at the ball park.
After snapping that shot, we headed over to the flags. As you can see from the following picture, although Tim is a shoulder rider with me, he is a hand holder with mommy:
Check out that shoulder-top ice water service. That kid has got it made!
Once we arrived in the flag pavillion, it was time for some fake pitching, batting and base running. Interestingly, Tim pulled a total role reversal at this game — he was the pitcher and fielder a lot. He is usually almost exclusively the fake batter:
In between our fake baseball games, we checked out the real baseball game on the field:
Moments after these pictures, the batter hit a solid line drive up the middle. Adam Jones fielded it and made a beautiful throw on the money to O’s top prospect Matt Weiters. The runner shown here standing on second base should have been thrown out by 20 feet. Instead, Weiters missed the ball and the runner was safe. You can watch the play by clicking here.
Weiters would later cost the O’s another run when he threw the ball into LF trying to gun a base stealer out at third.
But you know what? I’m getting ahead of myself. My pictures are out of order. Let’s go back to the fourth inning. At the time, we were standing in about the same spot as shown in the last pictures and the O’s were leading 1-0.
Up to the plate stepped big Adam Dunn — YAHTZEEEEEEE!!!!! He flat out demolished a David Henandez pitch for a two run bomb.
You can watch the highlight by clicking here.
If you watch quickly (and know what to look for), you can see me scurry across the bottom of the screen chasing Dunn’s homerun. Here are some screen shots with arrows pointing me out:
(As always, click to enlarge the photo).
And here are some pictures to illustrate where Dunn’s homerun went:
In the top right, the picture shows a reenactment of my view as Dunn made contact. This was the definition of a “no doubter.” Colleen was playing with Tim out of the way toward the RF foul pole and with the crack of the bat, I turned and sprinted toward the red “X” in the top right picture.
The arrow connecting the top left picture to the bottom picture are designed to give perspective. The arrows are pointing toward opposite sides of the same orange flag hanging on a lamp post at the CF side of Boog’s BBQ.
After running to the X, I saw the ball land in the middle of Eutaw Street and start bouncing around. The people out there had no clue what was going on. And they seemingly all had lubricant on their hands. About 18 fans touched the ball before a 25’ish year old guy eating at a picnic table at the base of the warehouse wall scooped it up.
When the ball started bouncing around, I headed down the narrow pathway to the left of the red X (behind sections 98 and 96) and out of the open gate shown in the bottom picture. But I was too late.
The red arrow in the top left picture (featuring Colleen and Tim in the foreground) is pointing to the picnic table where the guy grabbed the ball. The bottom picture is taken standing in front of the picnic table. When I took the bottom picture, the guy was finishing his meal and re-telling the story of Dunn’s home run with his buddies — one of whom claimed credit for an *assist* because he batted the ball toward his buddy. In reality, he simply missed it like 17 others.
For sake of clarity, the ball didn’t land at the picnic table. That is just where it ended up. It actually landed in the middle of Eutaw Street roughly at the mid-way point of Boog’s BBQ (or at least that is how I remember it). I’m interested to see next year where they place the homerun ball plaque.
Speaking of homerun plaques, check out what we found out by Dunn’s HR’s landing spot:
The evidence of a monster Griffey blast from 1994. (click to enlarge).
In the top of the seventh inning, we headed back to the bouncy house for one more bouncing session. Meanwhile, Wee Willie Harris hit a homerun into the flag pavillion — ah shucks (but Tim was having fun).
After bouncing, we talked to an attendant and found out where the line would start for Kids Run the Bases after the game. This was the sole reason we attended this game. I was really excited for Tim to run the bases at our baseball home away from Safeco Field.
At the point, it was the top of the 8th inning and about 30 people were already in line. Colleen wanted to get in line so we would be at the front of the line. But I figured we had time to watch a bit more of the game.
So we headed to the seats right behind home plate and below the press box:
Between pitches, Tim was having fun trying to reach into the press box.
Here was our view:
And here is family picture number 2 of the day (and number 2 of the vacation):
I ended up talking Colleen into letting us stay until the game ended before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases. See the red arrow? It is pointing to a couple handicap accessible seats in the back row (actually in the cross aisle) where we sat for the ninth inning.
The Plan: try to get the home plate umpire (Joyce) to give Tim a ball following the end of the game.
This was a feat I’d never even contemplated before reading about it on Zack Hample’s blog. We’d come close once before at Camden Yards earlier in the season. But we’d never succeeded.
The red arrow above points directly to the seat where I camped out. Tim was standing next to me and Colleen was sitting in the next chair over. When the Nats got two outs in the bottom of the 9th, I gave Colleen my glove and had Tim stand right in front of me. I was hoping for a high pop up or a grounder so I would know the game was over before the umps could start walking off the field. I got my wish. Some O’s batter hit a weak, slow rolling broken bat grounder to short stop. As everyone else sat there and watched, Tim jumped up onto my shoulders and we were 20 rows down into the stands before the short stop let the ball fly to first base. We slid into the second row on the side of the umps exit tunnel (that brick opening in the two previous pictures shown right behind home plate). Another father and son combo were in the first row right next to us. Joyce walked into the tunnel and grabbed a ball from his ball holder bag: “Here you go little guy” — and he handed it to the boy next to us.
Back into the bag goes Joyce’s right hand. Out comes a beautifully rubbed up game ball. And Joyce reaches up to Tim above my head — “Here you go.”
Thanks, Zack! We’re giving you an official assist in the score book for introducing us to the idea of post-game umpire hand-ups.
But wait, the best was yet to come — IT WAS TIME FOR KIDS RUN THE BASES!
We exited the stadium through Gate D and found our place in line. Colleen dealt admirably with the fact that we were about 10 times further back in line now than we would have been had we jumped into the line in the 8th inning.
The line worked out great because there is a patch of grass along the 3B side of the stadium:
And wouldn’t you know it, as the line started moving forward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his wife exited the stadium and cut throught he line directly between me and the person in front of me. After I said, “Hi, Peter” and snapped his picture, Colleen accused me of being the papparazi. FYI, “Peter” (maybe I should have gone with Mr. Angelos) didn’t respond. Another interesting Angelos tidbit, P.A. opened the door for his wife as their driver watched. Then he swung around to the driver’s side and had his driver open the door for him.
As the line snaked in to the stadium through the 1B side, I took some concourse pictures:
Its a nice, wide concourse. The only problem is that it is totally closed off from the game. I think that Camden Yards was the first of the really nice new stadiums and the collective of stadium architects who work on these jobs didn’t figure out how nice the open-to-the-field concourses are until after Camden Yards was built. Still, it is a great stadium.
This is the third Kids Run the Bases Tim has done this season — Citi Field, Nationals Park and Camden Yards. Interestingly, the Nats have been involved in all three games. Tim also ran the bases last season at The Jake in Cleveland. At every other stadium, we have entered the stadium through a bullpen in RF, and Tim and I have gotten our picture taken standing next to the distance marker on the outfield wall in the RF corner.
I had serious doubts that would happen at this game because Eutaw Street is built into the stadium and is 20-or-so feet above the playing surface in RF. Unfortunately, I was correct. So we weren’t able to get our usual footage picture.
But we got some great running the base pictures — like these pictures Colleen got between 2B and 3B and I have stitched together to make a big Tim in motion shot:
(click to enlarge)
And these pictures that I took of Tim touhing and/or approaching 1B, 3B and home (my 2B picture wasn’t zoomed and is essentially worthless):
Somehow both Colleen and I managed to miss it with our cameras, but Tim slid into home plate! It caught the field attendants off guard. A bunch of them ran over to help him get up. They thought he’d fallen. But, nope, it was a slide. He’d told me before hand he was going to do it.
After meeting up with Tim again, we got Family Picture No. 3 on the day (and a nice field attendant is smiling with us):
As we headed off the field, I took some shots for an on-field panaramic view…
(visitors dugout above (3B) and Orioles below (1B))
…and some random shots:
Top left, visitors’ interleague on-deck batters’ circle.
Bottom left, artificial warning track with hidden drains circling the field.
Top right, a chart I spied under the Nats’ bench that read “Nationals vs. Orioles Pitchers.” It has all of the regular Nats batters along the vertical axis and each of the O’s pitchers along the horizontal axis. When you connect the columns and rows, it tells you how each hitter has done against a particular O’s pitcher. For example, Adam Dunn is 1-3 with a HR against Brad Bergesen. I asked someone in the dugout if I could have it. But he said he isn’t allowed to touch anything in the dugout. I told him it was garbage. He didn’t care.
Bottom right, this was actually taken after we left the stadium. Tim and I are standing in front of a sign that is on the RF end of the warehouse.
Before leaving, Colleen took one more picture of us — our first ever (I think) at the 1B dugout:
And finally, we hit the road on the final leg of our return from vacation journey. As we headed to Rt-83, we said our good-byes to Camden Yards — we may not be back to this fine baseball facility until next season:
Next up for us:
July 2 – Mariners in the Bronx
July 3 – Mariners in Boston
July 4 – Mariners in Boston
July 5 – Mariners in Boston
Season Fan Stats:
14 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
9 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Umpire)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)
1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
7,953 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))