Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life. And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field. So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.
Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.
But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing. There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out. On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.
We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice. When we arrived, no one was on the field. So, we headed to the play area…
Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners. And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:
Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field. But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…
After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line. Tim and I headed over there…
It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF. We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent. Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.
Speaking of Ichiro. Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…
We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots. But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.
Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…
And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:
As for the game, it started off nicely. It was the A’s and the Mariners. Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez. Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning. Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.
It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast. So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.
On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.
I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…
As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…
I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.
It was great to catch up with RRS. It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season. It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season. I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season. And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note. While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.
Soon, we headed back to our seats. It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…
Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game. Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.
But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…
(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet. That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)
It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:
After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman. While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…
…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area. (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).
Well, we made it to the 8th inning. It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.
And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.
With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction. I had an open lane to the ailse. It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle. I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows. Then the ball totally died. I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.” The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…
I still had a chance. Someone bobbled the ball. I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.
Aye, aye, aye…
Oh, well. while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.
Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning. Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.
Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…
A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats. I asked her how far back we had to go. Row 11 was acceptable.
So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…
After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below). It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.” Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”
It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.
On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!
2010 Fan Stats:
23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)
62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, 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)
Due to Mother’s Day, we will be home both days this weekend with our special little lady. No games for Todd and Tim. Our next game action will be during the week next week when the Mariners visit Baltimore. For the time being, I figured I would share a non-game story from tonight.
One of my standing tasks at our house is getting Tim ready for and tucked into bed. We’re not big pre-bed story reading people. Tonight, however, Tim asked me to read him a story. So after a vigorous teeth brushing, Tim climbed into his bed ready for a story.
But before he could pick a book, something on his night stand caught his eye…
…it was the two baseballs we got last weekend at the Phillies/Mets game in Philadelphia.
The four most important baseballs we got last year reside on Tim’s dresser and the rest of our 2009 baseballs are on a shelf in my home office. A couple weeks ago, we had our first 11 baseballs of 2010 sitting loose on a table-top in our family room. Tim asked if we could put them in his room. While the two we got last week are on his night stand, the other 11 are now lined up across his dresser:
Our plan to read a story went out the door when Tim noticed the small “55” written inside the MLB logo on one of the baseballs on his night stand. He’d asked me to put those baseballs on his night stand and, once they were in place, he lined them up so they face his pillow.
Tonight, he asked me about the “55” and the other numbers written on some of the other balls on his dresser. What followed was a 20 minute walk down memory lane as we took several of the balls out of their cases to inspect them, played bare-handed catch from two feet apart, and discussed the games where we got the baseballs and the players who gave and/or autographed them for us.
We talked about the differences in the colors of the baseballs and how some baseballs — like our autographed Felix Hernandez baseball — look “dirty” because the players like it how it feels better in their hand that way.
We talked about our Willie Bloomquist baseball and how we got it the same night that Tim got his 30 Teams Trophy (also shown above on the night stand). Tim remembered that it was a rainy night at the ballpark that night. But he didn’t remember that was the same game at which he met Alex for the first time. Since meeting Alex in Chicago, Tim and I have run into Alex (and Joe, who Tim thinks are brothers) at Citi Field twice, including at the game in which we got the baseball to the far right on his dresser.
We talked about the numbers written inside the MLB logo and how they correspond to the order in which we caught them at Tim’s MLB games.
We talked about the ripped leather in a big scuff mark below the MLB logo on Tim’s 50th baseball and how it probably happened when the baseball was hit into the seats during BP and scraped across the pavement in the field level seating area at Nationals Park.
We talked about the umpires who have given us baseballs after games and, notably, how Tim had dropped the baseball that Bruce Dreckman gave him recently at Citi Field, and how another umpire picked it up and gave it back to Tim.
As we chatted, we tossed the various baseballs back-and-forth to each other. So many moments in life are forgotten forever. And that’s one of the reasons I love getting a baseball at a game. It gives us something tangible to hold onto and help tie us back into the memories of our days at the ballpark. Tonight, it was a great way to get ready for bed. It definitely beat reading one of Tim’s books for the 700th time.