The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”
After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.
I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…
…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.
Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:
That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…
…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.
When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…
…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.
This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:
During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:
Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.
I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:
Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.
So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:
Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:
Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]
When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.
They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.
A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.
While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…
…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.
Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:
Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…
…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…
…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:
After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…
…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.
It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].
When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:
And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:
BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.
I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…
…and Dubee tossed it to us.
Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:
Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.
That last one that Tim caught was extra special…
…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!
Double thanks, Jesus!
We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…
…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.
The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.
We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:
What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…
…rocks, water and sludge, of course!
Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:
Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:
This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:
Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.
The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.
That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.
We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:
Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:
We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…
…to eat our sundae:
I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:
After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!
We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:
Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…
…and another with the liberty bell:
And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:
The boys stood on this little railing a bit…
…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:
While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.
Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…
…and he pitched to J-Roll…
…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.
We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…
…to end the game.
We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:
The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:
And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
10 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins
10 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2
28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4
5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park
11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo
On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game. I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend. It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets. We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets. But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).
In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game. If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).
It was a drizzly morning. We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice. When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all. But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.
I had no clue who he was. But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…
As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived. In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.
When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”
And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:
After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF. We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen. But then some Marlins came out. Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin. So we headed back over to LF.
We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock. So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…
We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before). I used my zoom to figure out…
Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field. Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag. There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us. As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”
Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim. I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…
100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!
After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”
Wow – that’s cool!
We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by. We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs. This ball was from Cleveland.).
Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:
Finally, we met up with Poppy. I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry. After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy. First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument. We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:
Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.
Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me. Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm. Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way. I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.
Oh, well, on with the stadium tour. We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan). Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…
…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma). The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment. After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast. So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey. The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C. Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.
Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy. They’d marry. Have a daughter. Have another daughter. Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle. The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid. They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006. Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game. And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began. And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.
Here was their view:
Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…
This is what it looked like as we watched the game:
Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…
…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season. In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open. Four year olds are easily entertained.
There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…
…a squirrel ran across the outfield. Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen. They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.
Hey, there was a game played too.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house. And he brought a big bat with him…
Then things got a little interesting. Bonafacio stole second. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.
Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed. Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do. Bonafacio had his afterburners on. I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!” And that is just what he did. He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball. This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:
Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…
Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings. And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth. None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).
So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.
In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…
And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…
Yeah, we were having fun. It was a great day:
Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.
In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area. That’s when the drama began. Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him. On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.
He went crazy with the water works.
It was legitimate water works. He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.
Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area. He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids. So that’s what we did. He was still huff’n and puff’n.
As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…
The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues. In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side. Between the bandaids and the cup…
We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again. He hit this foul ball…
Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:
Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball. But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.
We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen. With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats. Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us. As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected. Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.
This was our view from section 124:
With all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was. I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us. I guess that foul ball really helped us out. Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.
Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.” We were in the “really fancy seats.”
However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game. Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed. But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.
We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:
Those stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats. An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt. I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.
First, Tim did some kung fu:
After Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned. We rushed down the stairs. The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field. As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.
All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot. In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture. That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.
Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball. It is close to guaranteed.
And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…
Thanks, Wally Bell!
Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy. We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF. But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park. We had to get a picture:
Sounds good to us!
It was dark in there. These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:
That bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park. The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club. To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.
To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows. In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…
It was pretty sweet in there. One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games. Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.
Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!
This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).
Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:
Running the bases, as always, was awesome:
A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:
We got our 100th baseball.
Spent some great quality time with Poppy.
Visited the Lexus Club.
Ran the Bases.
Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark? Not much.
It was another great MLB anniversary.
2010 Fan Stats:
20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)
58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)
15 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
10 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)