Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…
…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.
Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:
We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:
Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.
Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…
… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.
The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…
…and running around between the growing lines of fans:
Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:
And Kellan declared it to be banana time:
He destroyed that banana!
Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:
Thanks, Mets guy!
We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.
We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:
At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:
As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.
Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.
We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.
Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:
First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.
Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.
Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.
Thanks, again, Ervin!
Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):
We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…
…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.
On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:
Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:
And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…
…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”
Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:
We headed to Shea Bridge…
…where it looked a lot like this:
The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…
…struck out swinging.
We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:
Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:
For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:
Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….
…and section 531:
It was windy and freezing up there!
Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!
If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:
Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:
It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…
That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:
Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:
When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.
So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.
I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:
Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.
Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.
(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).
For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:
Check out these silly guys:
The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…
…hit a sacrifice fly.
Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.
After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:
After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.
We had a great day packed with fun and…
…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.
|2014 Fan Stats|
|5||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)|
|3||Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)|
|27||Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff|
|5||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)|
|1||Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)|
In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina. Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves. The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.
So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened. As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…
…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort. That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!
We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…
…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.
A couple Nats were playing catch in RF. See that red arrow in the picture above? We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).
When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…
…and Kellan made that hilarious face.
Tim looked around and was all like…
…, “Where’s Mateo?”
As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game. So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on. But Mateo was nowhere to be found.
But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:
I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game). When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.
When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us. But he completely missed the upper deck. He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball. On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads. Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.
Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location. And guess who the two attempt making player was that time? The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!
After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF. Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…
…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole. In that picture above, an usher yell is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole. Booo!
The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day. The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line. Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall. Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.
When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:
As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!
But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up. We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line. But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout. I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there. Not of one of them was missing.
Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters). We headed off in search of pizza. Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk. So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:
We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole. In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water. He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.
After eating, it was getting close to game time. But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area. Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area. We’d have to wait to get in. So we decided to come back later. Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:
The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats. We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:
We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):
And, ever better, they were free!
Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long. Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.
While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:
The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman. The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.
Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF. At this game, he shifted over to RF:
You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture. In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole. He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.
In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit. He got the hit. But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact. So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:
And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area. This time, it was all clear. Tim got right in and went to the playing. Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet. So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…
…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.
After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:
Tim was doing some great catching. His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months. I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense. Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more. Now he loves to play catch. I love it.
As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene. I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…
…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board. I have no clue what happened. But it was pretty crazy to see.
We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate. But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat. It was the bottom of the fourth inning. And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead. I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.
Nope. He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.
I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman. When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed? The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.
So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade. But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook! So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:
After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole. Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen. We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck. I figured we would give it another shot.
We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats. Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…
…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.
We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings. The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.
We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…
…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.
We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area. The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers. He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.
But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt. While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys. I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen. I called out, “Hey, Nelson.” When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look. He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.
When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look. And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms. It was well past his normal nap time.
We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area. Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone. We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…
…and only Tim succeeded.
I got Harper grounding weakly again:
He reached first one a throwing error.
Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…
…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen. Kellan was still asleep at the time. I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.
I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”
I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.
We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:
A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.
By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.
Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on. No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:
We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.
We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…
…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.
No problem there. Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:
Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:
As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:
Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…
…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.
When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:
I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners. By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…
…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).
When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…
…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.
I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:
I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot. One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:
It was pretty funny. She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way. But he was having none of it. I think he was enjoying the ride. So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.
When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face. So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.
Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:
As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops. The boys loved them:
Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation. Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|15/13 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house. But it is also sold out every single game. Its crowded. It’s expensive. It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC. That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game. But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.
Actually, that has been the plan all season. I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”
All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible. But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best. When we arrived at the ballpark…
…the weather was perfect. Warm, but not too hot. Couldy, but try. Perfect.
Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:
At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans. In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats. Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory. It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF. So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.
When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts. Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him. My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.
A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was. But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan. As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?” He looked up and said hi. I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”
As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter. Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line. Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball. I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double. We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head. He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes. It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.
I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys. Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):
Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line. None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”
No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us. But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us. Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner). It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field. I was the only person who saw it. I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.
Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself. Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face: “Look what that guy gave to me!” It was the ball that had been hit over us. The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim. Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.
I panicked for a second. The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan). So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher. I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain. I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely. For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.
Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball. But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid. He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom. And he seemed happy to have it.
Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this. When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball. Alan called to him to toss it back. When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:
I’m not an NL guy. But I like Tommy Hanson. So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.
My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see. She agreed. But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!
Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best: 32 miles per hour!
We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:
We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge. We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m. So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:
Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his. I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food. She approved. Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle. We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me. I made the catch right in stride. And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!” It was pretty cool.
Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…
…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section. When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there. We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him. But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball. So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.
Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge. We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there. Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:
While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic. First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame. I’ve never see that happen before. Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley. That was just plain ridiculous.
Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo). It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.
That was good enough for us. We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…
Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before. The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache. But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.
We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:
The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats. Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:
Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area. While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide. The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee. While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single. That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.
We had seats in the upper deck. So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp. We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…
…and then we continued racing up the ramp. Tim always makes me race him up the ramps. And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over. When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:
And then we went and found our seats. I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season. I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where. Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424. It was actually a very nice view of the game:
From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…
…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.
And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:
We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:
See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats? This is what was on the other side of the fence…
…a massive drop off!
We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:
Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:
At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief. The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd. She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras. Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring. She was completely oblivious and into her dancing. He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him. But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring. He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…
…and then began the water works. She started crying like a little baby. Then she started hugging and kissing him. So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:
And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:
He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.
Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:
He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.
After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…
…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs. First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley. Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence. That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.
Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:
When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan. So Mommy was on ice cream duty. Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets. She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:
Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream. Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…
…; the first and only batter he would face. That made the score 8-0 Phillies.
The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.
We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up. As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving? The game is still going! Why are we leaving!?” That’s my boy. I love that attitude. Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day. So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.
On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:
And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).|
|76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|15/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|