On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park. And it was a special one because we weren’t alone. We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.
Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons. So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.
Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia. There was an interesting parade going on…
…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.
We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…
…before the gates opened. After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…
…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan. And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF. That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.
As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day. I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.
Things started off normal enough. We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened. Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan. Kellan was wearing his glove. When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it. “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.” And that’s just what happened:
Things were quite in LF. Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened. But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.
Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:
Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.” In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track. A great catch by Tim!
Thanks, Rod and Antonio!
There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.
Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen. I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield. Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield. Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:
Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench. He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!
Thanks and thanks, Eddie!
So, there you go. The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs. We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.
While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate. In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games. So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.
And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened. Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…
…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance. We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge. Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.” And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims: Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson. Bot had eluded us. But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim! How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim. As the green “7” above suggests, it worked!
We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.
But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate. Oh, no!
There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.
So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!
But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…
…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.” Tim replied, “No! Not this one!” He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.
“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”
But how many more opportunities would we even have!?
Well, luckily, we had at least two more:
Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me. And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us. Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?” And Maholm obliged.
Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!
So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.
And the day wasn’t over yet. In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!
Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…
…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.
Okay. Things were officially ridiculous at this point. So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits. We headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…
…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…
…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:
So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start. We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission. When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes. The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet. We wanted it bad.
So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…
…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.
At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:
I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench. He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was. I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.
As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?
He tossed Tim a baseball.
Thanks, Jesus! You were truly awesome to us this season!
While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.
And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:
It took right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!
Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived. After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:
And then it was game time. We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:
(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).
Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:
We were in the first row of section 427. I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game. (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).
We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed. The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.
Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp. He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game. Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF. Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward. Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF. This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.
Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:
That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.
I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures. Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:
In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line. Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.
The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.
The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second. Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann. After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado. That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.
And Heyward to this loaded up…
…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…
…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play. Heyward ended up at second. Hey wouldn’t stay there long.
Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:
Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…
…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).
After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.
We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:
We also did some birding. Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:
(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird. Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).
Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:
This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies. Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:
(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)
At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI. Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit. But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.
By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.
After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves. And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …
…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…
…circle around home plate…
…, and pose with a pig…
…on our way to the kids’ play area:
Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:
I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed. It was pandemonium in there! And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:
Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing. That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.
We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.
Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…
…up the ramps to the upper deck. We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:
Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:
If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States. The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years. Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.
We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:
Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:
In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single. Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…
…at bat that we will ever witness. It looked like this:
It ended with fielder’s choice to SS. And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:
In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy. He needed to take a walk. On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:
With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd. Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…
…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:
Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:
I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…
…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:
After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball. Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.
When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:
Here’s what happened. We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130. There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club). As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row. I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight. I figured he must have stayed with Colleen. As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name: “Jerry!” He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.
Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below. He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us. He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion. And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).
Double thanks, Jerry Meals!
By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate. If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14). Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.
After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration. Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing. As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row. They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left. I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them. But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path. It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.
Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove. It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture. He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper. It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way. It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us. All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene. The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field. I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again. But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.
We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:
Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:
Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.
From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark. Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|26/24 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|
|42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6|
|24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training