And he met a little friend (just to the left of Tim in the last picture) named Sean to play around with. My dad and Sean’s dad, the guy with the blue shirt and glove right in the middle of the picture, were my main foul ball competition. Both my dad and I only played for fouls until we got one, then we concentrated on watching the game. As that last sentence implies, yep, we both got one.
As best as I can tell:
A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
With all of the photos we take at games, its both fun and helpful to make entries grouping different types of pictures. We recently finished recategorizing all of our panoramic pictures. So now, its time to compile all of our pictures with MLB players (in chronological order). Here we go:
ADAM MOORE. Tim’s first player picture was with Adam Moore…
…at the Mariners spring training in 2008. At the time, Adam was a prospect yet to make his regular season MLB debut. Turns out that in 2009, we were in attendance for Adam’s MLB debut.
Matt Capps. The first MLB player with whom Tim got his picture at a MLB park was then-Pirates reliever Matt Capps…
…at PNC Park. This picture was taken during the inaugural Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.
T.J. Beam. Shortly after the Matt Capps picture, we met T.J. Beam…
…another Pirates pitcher. Beam, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Yates signed that baseball I am holding in this picture (given to us by Denny Bautista).
Ryan Perry. We got this picture with Ryan Perry at Camden Yards in May 2009:
…taken on the sidewalk in Boston while walking back from Fenway to our hotel after an excellent Mariners win over the Red Sox.
“King” Felix Hernandez. We got a special treat on the Fourth of July in 2009, this picture with King Felix:
This was taken shortly after Felix finished playing catch with Erik Bedard. When Felix started signing autographs, Bedard tossed us their warm up baseball. Tim and I then met up with Felix for this photo and autograph. To cap it all off, the Mariners beat the Red Sox.
Jason Phillips. We met up with C&S Hall of Famer Jason Phillips…
…for this picture at Progressive Field in August 2009. Phillips has been extremely cool to us since we met him in ’09. Thanks, Jason!
Scott Olsen. We set a goal of getting a picture with a player from each team we saw in 2010. We fell short of reaching the goal, but had a lot of fun trying. Scott Olsen was our first player picture of the season…
Jeff Suppan. At that same Brewers-Nationals game, we got this picture with the incredibly nice Jeff Suppan:
Frank Catalanotto. May 1, 2010 was a big day. Kids Run the Bases at Citizens Bank Park and getting an important autograph and this outstanding picture with Tim’s “first batter” Frank Catalanotto:
Ryan Rowland-Smith. On May 11, 2010, we ran into RRS twice during pre-game festivities in Baltimore. During our second meeting, we got this picture:
Billy Wagner. On May 22, 2010, we met, got a baseball and two autographs from, and this picture with Billy Wagner at PNC Park:
Tommy Hanson. On May 23, 2010, we met and got this picture with up-and-coming Braves hurler Tommy Hanson:
Mike Cameron. One of our goals in 2010 (at least when we weren’t seeing the Mariners play) was to get pictures with former Mariners. On June 5, 2010, we went to a Red Sox/Orioles game in Baltimore with the goal of getting a picture with Adrian Beltre. I had forgotten that beloved former Mariner Mike Cameron also played for the Red Sox. We were very excited to come home with this shot with Cammy:
Jered Weaver. June 10, 2010 was the second game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010. We started off the day by getting a baseball tossed to us by Jered Weaver…
Joel Piniero. At that same game on June 10, 2010, we managed to get a wonderful picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…
…giving Tim a fist-bump for the 2010 Photo Scavenger Hunt on MyGameBalls.com.
Ryan Rowland-Smith. We met up with Ryan Rowland-Smith…
…again in San Diego on June 12, 2010 while on the GFS Roadtrip. After signing that autograph (that I gave to my dad), he chatted with us for a while and posed for this group shot:
Chad Cordero. On June 13, 2010, we met, got an autograph from and picture with Mariners reliever, Chad Cordero:
…taken on June 13, 2010 after King Felix pitched 8.2 dominating innings in an exciting Mariners win over the Padres. The backstory is that home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim a baseball on the way off the field, which third base umpire Joe West then stole from Tim before walking into the tunnel. West then came back chuckling at his prank and gave the baseball back to Tim. I jumped on the light hearted opportunity to ask the Cowboy to pose for this picture with Tim. He didn’t balk at my request.
Jamie Moyer. On June 26, 2010, the Blue Jays came to Philadelphia for a series of “home games” at Citizens Bank Park. The “visiting” Phillies took BP second so we had great access to the team. It all worked to our advantage because we were able to get this series of three pictures with Mariners legend (and my personal all-time favorite pitcher) Jamie Moyer:
Bert Blyleven. July 22, 2010 was our first game back in action after Kellan’s birth. The date will likely go down as the first time we’ve ever met two Hall of Famers (or eventual Hall of Famers) in one day. The first was the extremely nice Dutchman, Bert Blyleven:
The second picture of Palmer earned us some more points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
Omar Vizquel. Talking about Hall of Famers or eventual Hall of Famers, Omar Vizquel should be enshrined some day. The guy is a flat out amazing fielder. On August 8, 2010, he gave us his “John Hancock” and posed for this picture with Tim:
Jay Buente. On September 12, 2010 (Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary), Tim and I got our 100th baseball from Marlins pitcher Jay Buente. Before hustling off, Mr. Buente posed for a picture with Tim:
Thanks, Jay! In an interesting note (and something that I just realized), with this picture with Jay Buente, Tim closed out his first MLB division — he got a picture with a member of each team in the N.L. East in 2010 (Scott Olson of the Nationals, Frank Catalanotto of the Mets, Billy Wagner and Tommy Hanson of the Braves, Jamie Moyer of the Phillies, and Jay Buente (and Brian Sanches) of the Marlins). Cool.
Brian Sanches. Shortly after crossing paths with Jay Buente, we ran into another Marlins pitcher, Brian Sanches. He was incredibly nice. He signed a baseball for us and posed for this picture with Tim:
David Pauley, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson and Chris Seddon. At Kellan’s MLB Debut on October 1, 2010, he was lucky enough to get his picture with four Mariners David Pauley (top left), Ryan Rowland-Smith (the first player to get his picture with both Tim and Kellan), Garrett Olson (who had the bright idea of having Kellan wear the ice cream helmet in the picture), and Chris Seddon (bottom right):
Jack Zduriencik. On October 3, 2010, we closed out the season at Safeco Field. We ran into Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik in the centerfield SRO area before the game and got this wonderful picture of Jack Z. kissing Kellan:
Cook & Son Trivia: Jack Zduriencik is the only baseball executive with whom Kellan, Tim or I have even gotten our picture. He is easily the most accessible G.M. the Mariners have ever had. My mom has gotten her picture with Jack about 4 times. He’s all over the place.
On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…
…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!
As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels). We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint: see the title of this entry).
Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it. We stayed at the Doubletree. Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…
Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark. As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…
We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened. In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet. So we got a picture…
We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…
And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game. Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:
So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…
About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down. It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.
It was massive, massive rain.
They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain. We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.
Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea. No one was in the RF stands. No one at all. I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.
Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:
Seven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball. Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF. The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF. The balls were SOAKED. However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.
Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…
At the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game. So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up. The guys were having fun as they did their work. As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that. Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms. Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads. There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.
As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…
Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.
“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.” I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.
(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Who knows?)
Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack. We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).
Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…
I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason. I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).
While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!” I thought that was pretty hilarious. But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.
The next picture tells two stories:
First, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out. Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips). A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.
We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands. They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.
Finally, the tarp came off of the field…
It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…
Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…
At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs. We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit. We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left. We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.
Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game. And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…
The 2010 Mariners bullpen…
…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen. But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.
When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144. That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:
We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.
This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:
We were still absolutely soaking wet. Particularly our feet. I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks. His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours. We had to do the unspeakable. We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks. I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes. All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.
In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again. Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…
By the way, Ichiro grounded out.
Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…
One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…
Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance. We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.
Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.
I felt bad for Marte. I know nothing about the guy. Literally, nothing. But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland. There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad. I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players. Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family. But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win? It doesn’t make any sense.
With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets. Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting. Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.
Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:
This *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle. They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess. And it took forever to get the waffle cone. While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.
Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.
Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte. That did not help his cause.
It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.
Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.
We relocated to the standing room area in LF. Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…
Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out. And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:
While in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch. Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…
In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:
Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…
Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit. Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3. But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.
In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF. We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.
This was our view:
In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.
Here was our view:
By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:
It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:
Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:
It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out. So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball. But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.
Oh, well. It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired. Which was just fine with us. We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.
And guess what? Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:
Our day was still far from concluded. For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show. It is a big fireworks show set to music. I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands. Tim was all excited to try to catch one…
Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.
Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:
After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 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)
13 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 and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 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 and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state. So, I decided to get organized.
The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:
Those baseballs include:
- Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
- Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
- Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
- Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).
NOTE: Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).
The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:
As you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection. Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles). But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team). Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.
FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth. I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome. Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby). Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls. You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting. It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990. The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.
While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:
These are balls from 2006-08. On the top shelf:
1. Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).
3. Tim’s third ball ever – from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)
FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).
The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008. The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.
Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers. What the heck, lets show it too:
This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.
So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.
It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North. It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.
It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.
To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre. Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Let’s get to the game.
We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls. I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.
We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line. Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!! YES! I was psyched.
The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m. I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:
Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:
I took some random pictures:
To the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards. Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.
We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…
After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen). I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.
Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them. I decided to go over and see them.
First a little background. Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips? Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim. Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.
I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game. So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there. But I couldn’t find him. I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:
I was now on the opposite side of the infield. I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.
When I got there, this is what I saw:
To the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door. I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right. At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson. But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy. I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely. But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.
Whichever one it is, the guy was cool. He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings. He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey. He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me. We chatted for a minute or two. We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.
After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured). He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.
“Thanks, mystery Mariner!” (probably Garrett Olson)
After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:
Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)…
…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?” He laughed and kept stretching. Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas. In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.
After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.
Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:
Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who. I was watching some other M’s play catch. When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout. He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”
He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat. He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes. I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.
I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.” Jason responded, “Yep, that was me. Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin. And Franklin was mad at me about it.”
I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it. Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS! You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim. Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!
While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…
…as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph. It was at spring training in 2008. I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club. Hopefully he’s here to stay.
Oh, yeah. So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area. Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever…
Yeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games. But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim. Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself. I was hoping it would happen.
By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left? That ball is also shown here:
Back to that ball in the glove. That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove. After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall. Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her. Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.
When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:
As we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?” “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response. It was funny. He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.
After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball. I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…
In the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it. Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground. In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us. He then handed it back to us and went on signing.
But the story isn’t over. We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing. A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen. Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?” At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.
I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one. By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.” “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.
Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track. I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh. How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!” In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.
Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:
By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught. He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.” Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.” Hey, that’s not too far off. “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.
An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith. He was so extremely nice. He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around. His demeanor just exuded niceness.
At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips. There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.
But for the time being, it was getting close to game time. Most of the players had left the field. So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.
I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:
Notice that big blue double railing down the middle? I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice. But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.
Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:
That “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium. Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low. But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.
Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…
Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels). Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:
Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:
…check out how they have railings between every row of seating. They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell). I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps. It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.
Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…
And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…
…notice anything? Yep, that’s right. The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!! Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section. Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF. But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.
Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory. It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:
In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.
Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.
And that was our tour. We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start. This was our view from the first row in section 104:
So, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers. At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:
Back to our seats. Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:
John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon: “Can I have a baseball?” Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”
And that wasn’t all the fun they had. The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war. Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes. David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face. Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line. It was pretty impressive, and hilarious. Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:
Then we were interrupted with some baseball. I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF. I thought it was extra bases all the way. But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed. It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.
Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com. This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:
Tim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground. Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.
Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store. I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.
While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career. It was cool to be there for that.
Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…
After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF.
As we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep. I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:
Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit. Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.
Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is:
Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game. Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.
I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball. At many games, we get none. But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball. Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more. I needed a Jason Phillips ball. You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).
But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed. I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout. Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.
As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!” He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!” He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma. When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second. Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A. Aardsma relented and let him have the bag. Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.
“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”
Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!
We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats. Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:
The top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall. The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats. It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).
Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:
In case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.
Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:
Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.
Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:
Season Fan Stats:
31 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)