The offseason has been pretty quiet over here at Cook & Son Bats’ Blog. But I have received a few comments lately about “my book.” It is not your ordinary book, and I haven’t really discussed it much (if at all) on the blog. So now seems as good a time as any to explain a little bit about “The Baseball Log”:
Pictured above, that is Tim’s (the original) Baseball Log in the middle and Kellan’s and my Baseball Logs on either side.
Tim was born in early 2006. In October 2005, I was eagerly awaiting his birth when my wife’s grandmother passed away. We had to drive down to Virginia for her services. My wife stayed with her family for a few more days, but I had to head back to Pennsylvania for work. Whenever I am on a long drive alone I do a lot of thinking. On my drive home, I did a lot of thinking about all the fun times I expected to have with Tim going to baseball games in the future. And I thought a lot about all of the great times I shared with family and friends at the Kingdome watching the Mariners while I was growing up.
Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, I attended between 10-30 Mariners games a year while I was growing up. I have a lot of very specific memories of those games: Ken Griffey, Jr. breaking his arm making a miraclous catch in deep RCF, Game 1 of the 1995 ALCS, catching my only two live game foul balls, seeing Bo Jackson hit two homeruns in a game, Griffey’s 8-game homerun streak, Randy Johnson’s 19 strikeout performance featuring a monster bomb by Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell singlehandedly beating the Mariners with a 9-RBI performance, a fan running out to CF to ask for Kirby Puckett’s autographs during a game, Nolan Ryan giving up a leadoff hit to Harold Reynolds and then pitching a complete game 1-hitter, and temporarily giving up on the M’s and starting to leave a game against the Yankees in late 1995 but running back into the field level seats in time to watch Griffey blast a monster game-winning homerun.
But for each of those specific memories, there are 10 games or more of which I have absolutely no memory.
As I drove, an unanswerable question came to mind: “What is the Mariners record in the games I have attended?”
I have no clue and no way of figuring out the answer.
I needed to make sure my son didn’t suffer the same fate. I wanted to make amazing baseball memories with him…and actually remember ALL OF THEM! And in that moment while dwelling on that unanswerable question, I invented the answer: The Baseball Log!
I’m good at tinkering and making stuff. But I’d never made a book. It took a lot of thought and planning. I determined what I wanted to be included in The Baseball Log, and then I figured out how to make it. I started with fancy resume paper, a thin slice of wood, a side of leather (that I had used to make a baseball glove), some glue, a needle and thread, a leather stamping set, and a computer and printer. I put it all togther…
…and I made Tim’s one-of-a-kind Baseball Log:
For more than a year, Tim owned the only Baseball Log. But I started thinking that other people out there might like a Baseball Log of their own. So I did some research about online self-publishing companies. I decided on “eBookstand Publishing.” I did some revising and reformatting. And, boom: the “commercial” version of The Baseball Log was born. I dedicated the book to the biggest baseball inspirations of my life at the time:
FYI, if I had decided to add one more item to that list, it would have been “Spike Owen.” My original favorite player of all-time. Curse you Red Sox for stealing my guy!
Anyway, here are the basics of The Baseball Log. The overwhelming majority of the book is simply page after page after page after page of empty boxes for the owner to fill in their own baseball memories. Here is a look at the first page of Tim’s Baseball Log:
As you can see, it has spaces for the date, line score info, site of the game, companions with whom you attended the game, and game notes.
I forget the specific number, but I think the commercial version of The Baseball Log has room to record approximately 1,000 games. Here is a look at a random page of my Baseball Log, which includes Griffey’s 601st homerun, Felix Hernandez’s grand slam off of Johan Santana, and the first game of the First Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
NOTE: The 3-4 games listed on that page are the last two games that I have attended without Tim accompanying me.
Of course, the Baseball Log has a couple pages for the owner to record his or her favorite team’s (hopefully, the Mariners) record in games he or she attends:
The top book in that picture is Tim’s Baseball Log, the middle one is mine (you can see I have attended two more Mariners games than Tim since he was born…and the Mariners won both of them), and the bottom book is Kellan’s (poor guy has only seen 1 Mariners win so far!)
I made one upgrade that I really like in the commercial version of the Baseball Log. Tim’s book has pages for recording when Tim has seen each team play a game. I reformatted those original pages into the “Touch ’em All Checklist” where the owner of the book can record the date of the first home and away game for each team he has seen. Below, you can see that I (and Tim) have seen every MLB team play a road game, and every team except the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies play a home game…
…we will complete this list in May 2012!
There are pages to record Hall of Famers who you have seen play in person…
…once some of the players Tim has seen play retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be able to reference the relevant games by page number in the “Memorable Games” column.
I had one more idea that has never panned out…but I still love it. My hope was that fan assistance office or front office receptionists at the various MLB stadiums would have “received” stamps that they use to stamp incoming mail. If so, my plan was to get our Baseball Log’s stamped like passports…
…to date, I have yet to find any MLB stadium that had a stamp for our books. I have discussed this with a guy in the Phillies front office and he loved the stadium passport idea. Still, nothing has come of it. But wouldn’t that be great to be able to get a stamp at each stadium you visit listing the name of the team/stadium with the date included? I’d love that.
The Baseball Log also has spaces to record your favorite players by year, and a bunch of blank pages at the back for autographs (although we have never attempted to have anyone sign our Baseball Logs).
I’ll share one last picture with you. When I self-published the book, I decided to make it a sturdy hard backed book — just like Tim’s Baseball Log — so it could (hopefully) endure a lifetime of use. Because it is a hardback, I got to design a dust jacket. As shown in the top picture, I used a baseball — one I snagged at the Kingdome — and I did some editing to remove the normal writing on the baseball and replaced it with “BASEBALL LOG.” Here is a picture of the actual baseball that is pictured on the front cover:
I just realized tonight when I took this picture that I took the cover photo of the baseball on July 16, 2007 — exactly three years to the date before Kellan was born. Awesome! Makes me feel that Kellan had a little influence on the book years before he was born.
So, there you go: The Baseball Log.
It is not for everyone. In fact, it is not for most people. Even most dedicated fans. But for the right person, it can be really awesome.
If you happen to be one of the very few people out there who have purchased your very own Baseball Log, I hope you are really enjoying it.
If you don’t have a Baseball Log but would like one. You can check it out here: http://www.ebookstand.com/book_cart.php?id=2133&order=cart — or here: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Log-Todd-J-Cook/dp/1589094719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327373869&sr=8-1
Heading into the final week of the 2007 season, I checked the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule and noticed that the Cardinals were coming to town for the final weekend of the season. For reasons discussed further below, I was excited to see the Cardinals and their monster first baseman Albert Pujols. So I told my wife to have a nice weekend at home because TIM AND I WERE ROADTRIPPING!!
We had lots of “firsts” on this trip — some “baseball firsts” and some “life firsts.” First, it was our first baseball roadtrip “camping” in a KOA camping cabin. Pittsburgh is about 4 or so hours away. So I figured it was a little too far to drive back home after a night game. I also figured staying at a KOA would be more fun for Tim than staying at a hotel. So we booked a cabin at the Washington, PA KOA.
We left in the morning and arrived in Washington, PA in the early afternoon. Tim loved roaming all around the camp ground:
With the assistance of our KOA hosts Rick and Sharon Leclair, our second “first” was a trip to West Virginia:
I’d noticed that West Virginia was really close to Washington, PA on the map. So I asked Sharon about it while checking in at the KOA. She advised that there was a place in West Virginia just about 17 miles down the road that might interest Tim. So, with lots of time to spare before the game, Tim and I hopped in the car, drove to West Virginia for the first time in either of our lives, and arrived a Cabela’s in Wheeling, WVa:
It was time for Tim’s third “first” of the trip — Pittsburgh, PA. We left West Virginia and headed into Pittsburgh for the game. I’ve been to Pittsburgh several times and each tiem the sole purpose was to attend a baseball game at PNC Park. I know next to nothing about the city other than PNC Park. But I can tell you its a neat looking place.
As you can see on the map below…
…downtown Pittsburgh is nestled between the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahea Rivers. The red arrow points to PNC Park, which is across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. Downtown and the ballpark are connected by a bunch of yellow bridges including:
The RCB is an automobile bridge most of the time, but before Pirates games (or at least this one) it is closed down and made into a pedestrian bridge. Although the bridges look a little weathered up close, they look beautiful from PNC Park with Pittsburgh’s unique-looking skyscrapers behind them.
Here’s a view of PNC Park from the Roberto Clemente Bridge…
Finally, it was time for Tim’s fourth “first” of the day — PNC Park. On our way into the park, we stopped so Tim could get his picture…
…with Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.
Soon, we were inside the stadium…
We were there in time to watch BP. But Tim was still too young for us to go out into the bleachers and test our luck at catching a BP homerun.
Instead, we grabbed some food and watched the Red Birds take BP. Going to games back then was a lot more difficult than going to games in 2009. As you can see, we had Tim’s on-the-go stroller with us…
…so, along with a back pack full of stuff, there was a lot to lug around to a ball game (and it made it a lot more difficult to take pictures too). But it made for a convenient place for Tim to sit and enjoy eating his ballpark frank before the game.
Anyway, at this game, our seats were in the lower section of the upper deck behind 3B. After BP ended, we went to our seats. They provided an outstanding view of the field, river, bridges and city. It was like a postcard…of course, I didn’t take a picture of it. Sorry.
We were out of our seats before the game even started, and we never returned to them. Instead, we spent most of our time during the game standing (or in Tim’s case running around in circles) on the big spiral walk way from the LF field concourse up to the upper deck concourse. Here is a shot of Tim standing at the top watching the grounds crew readying the field:
Do you see that braclet on Tim’s right wrist? At some point, a Pirates employee gave it to me. Its like a luggage tag, but its for lost kids. You put your name, seat number, cellphone number on it. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lose Tim at this (or any other) game.
While up on the upper deck concourse, Tim had his fifth “first” of the day — his first time drinking from a water fountain. Tim thought the drinking fountain was great. He went back to it literally about 25 times throughout the game. And, he still loves drinking fountains today.
During the game, I took a fairly odd self-portrait of the two of us at the top of the spiral walkway:
The game was a good one. My main goal was to see Albert Pujols hit a home run. While that did not happen, he had a strong day at the plate going 3-5 with a double, 1 RBI and 1 run scored. I was also interested in seeing Rick Ankiel because his pitching troubles were still fresh in my mind. I wanted to see how he’d do as an outfielder and batter. He too had a strong performance. He went 3-4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored. Generally, the story of the game was the Cardinals hitting and the Pirates not.
In the 4th or 5th inning, Tim and I relocated to a standing room area in RF…
…see that red arrow above? Well, maybe you should click on that picture to see it larger. If you do, you’ll see a chain link fence above the out-of-town scoreboard and below the RF bleachers. The chain link fence is part of the RF wall. Behind the chain link fence is a tunnel beneath the RF bleachers. There is a single row of seating along the front of the tunnel in groups of 2-3 seats at a time. I think the purpose of those seats is to have room for wheelchair seating. In 2008, I tried to buy tickets in that row of seating, but couldn’t figure out if or how I could do that.
Anyway, its a great place from which to watch a game with a young active son. I could watch the game while Tim ran circles around me without really bothering any of the other fans. There is also a “family restroom” in that tunnel, which is also handy when you have a young active child with you.
For some reason, I thought Ankiel was playing RF so I took this picture…
In the 6th inning, So Taguchi hit a seeing-eye single up the middle. It looked like either future Mariner Jack Wilson would snare the grounder from short stop or Matt Kata would get it from the second base position. Instead, the ball snuck by them both and Wilson and Kata ran into each other. In the process, Wilson took a direct shot to the side of the head from Kata’s knee. He went down hard and stayed down a long time. Eventually, they put him on a little flatbed type golf cart and motored him out of the stadium through a tunnel right below us in the RF foul corner.
The day had been really long for young Tim. He crashed hard by the 7th or 8th inning. That was fine with me, I’d achieved what I’d come to achive. So we left. By the time we got to the south of the Robert Clemente Bridge, Tim was fast asleep…
We drove back to the KOA and spent the night. The next day, we heaeded home to tell Colleen all about our adventures.
Our 2007 season was complete.
Now, there was one more “first” I haven’t mentioned yet, the most important first of the day. Amazingly, at the age of 31, this was my first time EVER seeing the Cardinals play live, and with the game I finally completed my 30-MLB Milestone. Compared to Tim seeing all 30 teams at 3.5, I guess doing it in 31 years is pretty unimpressive. But, I have a good explanation.
I grew in Seattle, which at the time was 812 miles from the nearest National League Park, Candlestick Park. Plus, there was no inter-league play until 1997. In 1997 and 1998, I went to at least one of the interleague games featuring each NL team that visited Seattle. But, that was just the NL West. I didn’t see most of the other NL teams until I moved to Philadelphia in 1999.
It was 2000 or 2001, when I first sat down and tried to figure out if I’d seen every team play at least once live. I had seen every American League team (including the Brewers) multiple times at the Kingdome. But I wasn’t sure if I had completed the NL. At that point, I could pinpoint at least one specific game in which I had seen every team play except the Montreal Expos. Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.
I checked the Expos and Astros off the list in relatively short order. But for years, I could never get to a Cardinals games. It seemed like they would visit Philadelphia for only one series per season and I could never get to that series. So, it came to late 2007 and I saw this game as my first and best chance of actually getting to a Cardinals game. I planned the trip without hesitation. So, there you have it, at age 31, I finally could say that I had seen all 30 MLB teams play live. (Notably, Tim and I have now seen the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh, Cinncinati and Philadelphia.)
I didn’t keep a Baseball Log growing up, so I couldn’t put together a full game list for myself like I did for Tim’s 30-MLB Team Milestone. But I wanted to do something to illustrate my milestone. So, I tried to compile a list of at least one specific game when I saw each MLB team. By way of reviewing old ticket stubs (which I used to keep for years in the inside flap of my baseball caps), reviewing calendars, doing lots of research on Baseball-Reference.com, and exchanging emails with friends with whom I attended games throughout my life, I was able to pinpoint at least one specific game for every team except the Astros and Dodgers. Here you go (with brief comments for notable games):
Athletics – June 24, 1997 – Randy Johnson K’s 19 & Mark McGwire hits epic homerun.
Rangers – June 3, 1989 – Nolan Ryan 1-hits the M’s. Harold’s lead off hit is M’s only hit.
Angels – June 18, 1999 – My first game at Yankee Stadium.
Indians – October 10, 1995 – Game 1 of ALCS. Mariners win!
Royals – August 31, 1990 – The first game with Ken Griffey Jr. & Sr. playing together.
Twins – May 15, 2000
Tigers – August 30, 1990 – My first foul ball caught during an actual MLB game.
White Sox – April 5, 1999 – Final opening day at the Kingdome.
Red Sox – April 25, 1994 – Randy Johson (CG) beats Roger Clemens & Griffey hits HR.
Orioles – May 26, 1994 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits a homerun and breaks arm making catch.
Rays – May 20, 2000
Blue Jays – September 12, 2006 – Tim’s First Game.
Yankees – August 25, 1995 – Griffey’s walk-off HR starts M’s charge to AL West title.
Giants – June 19, 2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 689th homerun in Philadelphia.
Dodgers – I saw them at Dodger Stadium in June 1994 and in Seattle in 1997-98.
Padres – June 1, 1999 – My first game at Wrigley Field on “moving to Philadelphia” drive.
Rockies – September 12, 2007 – Tim’s First MLB Anniversary.
Diamondbacks – August 8, 1999
Cubs – June 1, 1999 – Same as above (First game at Wrigley)
Cardinals – September 29, 2007 – This game! Finally!
Pirates – June 19, 2004 – Mariners beat Pirates and Eddie Guardado throws me a ball.
Astros – Two games in Philadelphia between 2000-05, but I can’t pinpoint the games.
Reds – September 4, 1999
Brewers – September 2, 1993 – Brewers playing in the AL (where they belong).
Phillies – April 12, 1999 – 1999 Home Opener and my first game at the Vet.
Mets – June 8, 2003 – Mariners sweep double-header at Shea behind Moyer and Garcia.
Expos – September 4, 2002 – My only “Expos” game.
Nationals – June 10, 2005 – My first “Nationals” game.
Marlins – September 9, 2007 – Tim’s first game seeing Jamie Moyer pitch in person.
Braves – April 12, 1999 – same as above (Phillies Home Opener)
On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.
All of the Cooks were in attendance:
Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier. It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.
Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:
We sat in Section 235, Row 9:
This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park. I really liked these seats. Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us. Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.
Speaking of views, here was our view:
Check out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during pennant race! At this point, the Phils were still six games back. Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.
In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty. Not even close. The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.
Anyway, back to the game. I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…
Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball. It was great, Tim was having a blast…
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis. Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run. Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run. Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.
With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…
And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…
…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up. One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs. That would certainly be memorable.
The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day. But it didn’t matter. He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.
Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…
…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.
Yep. It was a good day.
By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left? I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game. I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion. I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect. (Side note: the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave).
Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.
So, I have a three year old son, Tim. He is my partner in crime when it comes to baseball adventures. We (read, I) have set a couple “fan” goals for the 2009 baseball season. This weekend, we start our quest to achieve those goals. So, I guess I should let you know what some of those goals are. I won’t burden you with all of our goals, but here are the top three (in order of importance):
2) Have Tim complete the MLB circuit – see each of the 30 teams play live. Tim is 3 and he has seen 20 teams. To complete the circuit, he needs to see the A’s (May 1-3), Rangers (May 4-5), Royals (Aug. 17), Tigers (May 31), Red Sox (July 3-4), Rays (April 12), Dodgers (May 12), Padres (April 19), Astros (Aug. 14) and Braves (May 10).
3) Visit 11 stadia (stadiums) – Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Wrigley Field, The HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, Fenway Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, and (New) Yankee Stadium.
Tim and I will start the quest tomorrow as we visit Camden Yards to see the Rays and Orioles. I love Camden Yards. I’ve go there at least once a year every year…since probably 2000. Its an awesome park. I always get the cheap seats in straight away center. Its an excellent view of the field and you get all of the sights and smells of Eutaw Street (and Boog’s BBQ) just behind the seats.
Tim and Ken Griffey, Jr. at Camden-Yards.
Its odd for me to go to game that does not include the Mariners, Ken Griffey, Jr. (when he was on the Reds and White Sox) or the Phillies (the closest team to our home). I’ve decided that I’ll root for the Orioles. They have a couple ex-Mariners (all the young studs we gave up to get Bedard) and, in case the M’s are in the wild card race at the end of the season, I think one more win in the O’s column and one less in the Rays column would be good for the M’s.
We got a jump start on our season today by attending a short bit of the Reading Phillies game today. The R-Phils are our local AA team. They’re the jewel of the Phillies’ farm system, and of the Eastern League.
I know some of the R-Phils front office staff from playing softball against them in the Reading-Berks Business Softball League. They’re good guys who have a lot of fun. And they put on some great Minor League entertainment at FirstEnergy Field.
Tonight, they had the Phillies Phanatic and the World Series Trophy in town. Anyone could get a free picture with the Trophy. Tim and I wore some Mariners gear so the Trophy could get familiar with the M’s. I told Tim that the next time we visit the World Series Trophy, it will be in Seattle. Let’s hope that days comes some day soon.
Speaking of the M’s. They’re in first place!
Strong D, strong pitching, timely hitting…and all this without Ichiro, who is ripping it up in extended spring training with the Mariners low Minor Leaguers. I can’t wait to see my M’s in Seattle next month!