Tagged: Camden Yards

Last Game of 2012 (9/29/12)

Our baseball season came to a close at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, where the surging Orioles faced off against the floundering Boston Red Sox.

We had four goals for this game:  (1) have a ton of fun taking in our final game of the season, (2) catch at least one baseball to complete our first ever perfect season of getting at least one baseball at each game we attended, (3) try to get our hands on at least one more Fenway 100 commemorative baseball, and (4) have even more fun.

The past several seasons, the Orioles have had a lot of signs all over downtown Baltimore during a bulk of the season, and then in September they were nowhere to be seen.  I was excited to see whether thing would be different in September 2012 with the Orioles just a game back in the A.L. East and in wild card position.  And it was:

There were Orioles banners all over downtown Baltimore, as well as an Orioles van!

We arrived at Camden Yards with plenty of time to spare before the gates opened:

It was the final statue (Brooks Robinson) dedication night so there was a huge crowd when we arrived at the CF gate:

We met up with Alex Kopp and Avi Miller (and Avi’s sister and friend), and past time Felixing…

…and eating various special flavored oreos until the gates opened.

When the gates opened, we grabbed our Brooks Robinson statues, handed them off to Avi (who had given us free tickets in exchange for our statues), and headed over to foul territory down the LF line:

By the time the gates opened, a huge crowd was ready to head inside for the dedication of Brooks Robinson’s new statue.  Earlier in the season we were at Camden Yards for the dedication of Frank Robinson’s statue.  At that game, the line outside the ballpark was also huge, but BP was pretty much just like any other game.  But that was early in the season before the Orioles acquired tens-of-thousands of new fans.  BP at this game was packed.

We were in a prime spot to get a ball from one of the Red Sox pitchers…

…and we were hoping it would be one of those beautiful Fenway 100 commemoratives.

Eventually, an Orioles batter hit a ball down the line into the LF corner and this trainer guy…

…tossed it over to us.

Thanks, unidentified trainer guy!

That made Tim and me 27-for-27 and Kellan 25-for-25 on the season!  Our first ever perfect season, which was pretty cool.

But we still had our sights set on snagging one of those Fenway 100 baseballs.

The only Red Sox reliever who was near us and I recognized was Andrew Bailey:

He was in the last set of Red Sox down the line and, as you can see, he was on the OF side as they warmed up.  But then they did some pitching to each other.  Bailey came in to approximately 60 feet and popped-a-squat to play catcher.  After his partner finished pitching they switched spots and Bailey pitched from the warning track just in front of us.  As he pitched, I could tell that he was using a Fenway 100 baseball!

As we watched Bailey with great interest, our ears were treated to a number of speakers telling tales of the great Brooks Robinson – who was no more than 100 yards from us at the time:

By the time Bailey finished pitching, the seats around us at had filled in with fans.  But, luckily, I was the first and only person to call out, “Hey, Andrew!”  When he turned around, I pointed to Tim and asked if he could toss his ball over.

On his first throw, I didn’t think the ball was going to make it into the stands so I reached out for it and Tim and I clanked our gloves together and the ball bounced back towards Bailey.  He tossed it again and I stood back so Tim could make a high catch on it:

What a beauty:

Thanks, Andrew!

It was getting so crowded down the LF line that we decided to relocate to LCF by the bullpens.  On or walk over there, this was our view of the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony:

Here is the best view we ever got of Brooks or his statue:

Shortly after setting up shop by the bullpens, Tim declared it was snack time.  He was wearing his new white (and highly stainable) Felix Hernandez jersey that his grandparents gave him after the Ichiro trade.  Snack time brought on the first of several stain-preventing outfit changes for Tim:

In that picture above to the left, he is stuffing his white jersey into a bag so he can enjoy some “pirates” (shown in the middle picture).

Not much was happening in the OF, either from a homerun or a Red Sox toss-up perspective.  So we entertained ourselves by chatting, snacking, crowd watching, and taking pictures.

Here’s a picture of a temporary banner the Orioles hung behind home plate to thank their new fans – winning creates new fans:

Here’s a picture of the boys just clowning around in the seats:

Now check out this picture of the crowd:

It’s hard to believe that is Camden Yards!  As I said, winning creates new fans.   If you have a very keen eye (and know what he looks like), you might be able to spot a red-shirted Alex Kopp in that last picture.

After BP ended, we hung out by the bullpens until around game time.  Alex came over and we chatted with him a bit.  With the crazy BP crowd, he had not managed to catch a baseball.  But he ended up getting one from Rick Adair at the bullpen before the game started.

Just before game time, we started to make our way over to the kids’ play area.  By that point, they had cleared the statue area so they could clean up all of the seats, etc., used during the ceremony.  This was our view of the final new statue as we passed by:

Pretty much at every game we spend some time in the kids’ play area and some time watching the game.  At this game, we let the kids call the shots and it resulted in what might be a world, single-game record for amount of time spent in a kids’ play area.

We started with some air-T batting:

We did a little bouncing:

Tim took his cuts in the batting cage:

And then we landed at the pitching cage, where we would spent a huge amount of time at this game:

In Tim’s first turn in the pitching cage (three tosses per turn), Tim threw the fastest recorded pitch of his young life:  37 blazing miles per hour.  He matched it once more during the night (and I didn’t get a picture of either of them), but most of this pitches clocked in between 33-36 miles per hour.  Kellan, on the other hand, did not throw a single clockable pitch.  But he was definitely a fan favorite in the pitching cage.

After the first pass through the kids’ play area, we decided to pull the old switcheroo – dessert before dinner.  It was the bottom of the first inning with no score, and we headed to the statue area for our last ice cream helmets of the season.

It was packed out there.  Every seat was filled with a brand-new Orioles fan or a dejected Red Sox fan, and all of the good standing room spots were full.  The boys grab some non-prime seating spots along the wall where I could sort of see the action:

Adam Jones went down swinging…

…to the first inning.

We watched the scoreless top of the second inning from the same spot.  And Kellan made certain that he didn’t waste even a drop of melted ice cream:

During the bottom of the second inning, the Orioles put a little rally together and the boys and I decided to head back behind home plate and then back to the kids play area.  On our way through the cross aisle, an usher was kind enough to take our picture:

As we approached the cross-aisle behind third base, Manny Machado hit a ground ball single up the box and into CF.  Chris Davis scored the first run of the night on the play.

We made it back to home plate just in time to watch Lew Ford…

…foul out to end the inning.

So, with the score 1-0 Orioles after two inning, we were off to the kids play area again.  On our way, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with a muscle car:

(Tim loves pointing out muscle cars when we are in the car).

And then it was off to the pitching cage again:

(those lines are running from the muscle car toward the cage).

We stayed at the kids’ play area for a long, long time doing all sorts of playing.  Like this…

…and this:

And some standing around waiting to play, like this:

When we finally left the play area, the game was heading into the bottom of the fourth inning and it was still 1-0 Orioles.  We headed out to the flag court.  It was packed out there:

I should mention that right before we headed to the flag court, or maybe even while we were en route to the flag court, Chris Davis launched his 30th homerun of the season deep into the seats in RCF (much more CF than RF).  That made it 3-0 Orioles and the place was going crazy – partially because the Orioles were playing a “Gangnam Style” parody video on the big screen called “Camden Style.”

We were out in the flag court for the top of the fifth.  Unforutnately, the lead off batter walked and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homerun into the seats in RCF just past the flag court.

That made the score 3-2 Birds.

The Orioles Bird was out in the flag court and, despite the Salty-Bomb, he was plenty happy about the O’s 1-run lead.  He celebrated by eating Tim’s head…

…and a few minutes later, he came back to shake Tim’s hand while we were on our way back to the play area.

On our way back to the play area, I noticed this big picture of Memorial Stadium:

I’m not sure how long its been there.  Maybe it’s always been there.  But I have never really paid attention to it.  I was never at a game at Memorial Stadium.  But it is cool to see that the Orioles paid tribute to it on the design of the home plate area at Camden Yards – the two look very similar.

After our final many rounds of pitching in the cage…

…we headed off to the club level to meet up with Avi and have some dinner:

While we were in the Club Level, Avi was none-to-pleased to see Adam Jones and Chris Davis fail to communicate properly, leading to a dropped ball by Davis and a game-tying third run for the Red Sox.  That was in the top of the sixth inning.

The score remained 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, which Machado led off by belting a homerun into the LF seats.  And just like that, the O’s were back on top 4-3.

In the eighth inning, we decided to head down to the field level.  On our way through the Club Level on our way to the elevator, I snapped some pictures of the décor:

We headed here…

…for the rest of the game.  This was my standing-room view from the cross-aisle behind second 32:

I should mention that the Yankees had already lost their game against the Blue Jays.  With the Yankees loss, the O’s were just half a game back in the A.L. East.  The team and the crowd badly wanted a share of first place.

The Orioles sent in their All-Star closer Jim Johnson to get the final three outs of the game.  Meanwhile, we pondered the idea of going for a post-game umpire baseball.  We moved more directly behind home plate in the cross-aisle.

It took six pitches, but Johnson mowed down Cody Ross on strikes.  Eight pitches later, Johnson retired Mauro Gomez on a line drive to RF.  It was no routine liner though.  It was softly hit and former-Royal/Expo/National/Phillie/Met/Mariner Endy Chavez had to race in and make a nice diving catch to record the out.

When the whole crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of the final out of the game, the Red Sox sent Saltalamacchia to the plate, and I sent Tim down the stair case to get into position for an umpire ball.  Kellan and I stayed at the top of the stairs where this was our view of the Tim and the game:

This was the TV viewing audience’s view of Tim and the game just prior to the final pitch of the night:

And so was this:

That guy right next to Tim is about to tap him on the shoulder and give him the open seat right along the umpires’ tunnel.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Saltalamacchia flew out to LF to end the game.  Tim was already in perfect position.  The crowd was going crazy and no one was leaving.  So Kellan and I had an easy time making our way down the stairs to the fourth row (two rows behind Tim).

I had told Tim already that the umpires’ name was Greg Gibson.  When the four umps converged on the warning track just behind home plate, Tim must have already called out Gibson’s name because once they opened up the umpires’ gate, Gibson ducked into the tunnel and walked right over to Tim.  They had a little conversation that probably lasted 10-20 seconds.  And then Gibson pulled a beautiful Camden Yards commemorative baseball out of his pouch and set it into Tim’s glove before giving Tim a final smile and turning back toward the exit.  Two steps later, Gibson handed another beautiful commemorative baseball to Kellan.

Double thanks, Mr. Gibson!

We quickly relocated to the first row to watch the stadium celebrate.  The highlight of the celebration was when the Orioles Bird ran over and gave all three of us high fives through the protective netting.  I thought that was pretty funny in light of the fact that we were all wearing Mariners jerseys.  But, hey, we were celebrating right along with everyone else.  It was a great atmosphere.

A few minutes later, an usher took a final, blurry photo of the three of us before we started to pack up to get out of there:

It’s been another great season with my boys, and a lot of fun having Kellan join in the fun with Tim and me.

On our way out of the ballpark, Tim posed for a picture with Brooks Robinson’s number 5 posted on the warehouse:

They had already locked up RF and CF gates into the flag court and CF bleachers:

But Eutaw Street was rocking:

On our way out, we tried to go over and get a better look at the new Brooks Robinson statue, but about 3,000 other people had the same idea and this is as close as we got:

And just like that, our in person MLB season was over…

…, goodbye, Camden Yards.

We can wait to come back for more in 2013.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

27/25 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
44 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   9, Orioles 7, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
155 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 11, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 8,   Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
27 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 13, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 2, 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 Park10/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (4); 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
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Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2012)

September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar.  The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners.  This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!

A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.

On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game.  It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0.  When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.

And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.

On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.

On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.

On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.

I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons.  First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary.  Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.

Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles.  This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.

Planning was very difficult this year.  September 12 was a Wednesday.  I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game.  But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.

Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals.  That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time.  But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia.  With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.  Tim would be in school until 3:10.  Going to NY was out of the question.

Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.  That was a no go, as well.

So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.  It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game.  It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals.  But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered.  BP would be out of the question.  But at least we should be able to make it for the game.  So that was the plan.

Here is what had to happen to make it happen:

Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia.  I was detained until around 4:30.  When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic.  I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia.  Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic.  I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.

The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore.  My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30.  But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia.  We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line.  By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.

Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes.  After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.

Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.

Thanks, Avi!

The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.

So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!

So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball.  I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend.  After this game, we would only have two more games this season.  With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.

During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995).  We hung out in the ideal spot:

We had no luck, but the Orioles did.  On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles.  They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.

After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza.  While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture!  Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.

Oh, well.

It was pizza time.  The outfield was totally packed.  Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:

While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:

We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:

Here was our view for large chunks of this game:

Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area.  It was time to hit the kids’ play area.  Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues.  First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:

And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:

And then we headed down Eutaw Street…

…toward the play area.  We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…

…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:

The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing.  It is bigger and better for the kids.  But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside.  The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.

The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…

…and the pig:

After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets.  There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line.  I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em.  But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl.  When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over.  That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!

We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:

And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:

I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.  I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third.  For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.

Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO.  Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:

Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings.  After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning.  Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.

Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:

Well, that’s not completely accurate.  Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers.  Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher.  Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth.  The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson.  Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.

Johnson had a rough inning.  After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger.  Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger.  After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.

Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun.  So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.

With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit.  As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first.  Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard.  Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy.  One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.

And that ended the top of the ninth inning.

I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth.  Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench.  Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name.  He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball.  We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop.  We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.

Thanks, Scott!

I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season.  We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.

Thanks again, Scott!

Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:

After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF.  He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.

Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless.  This year was different.  The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles.  In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:

Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:

And, I was sort of a fortune teller.  No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.

The place was going crazy:  Orioles win!  Orioles win!  Orioles win!

As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.

The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously).  At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire.  When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel.  As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us.  We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd.  He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field.  Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him.  We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires.  Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:

Thanks, Marvin!

I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs.  I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game.  Very odd.

Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:

We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:

On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:

We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude.  So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.

Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets.  So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate.  After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:

We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game.  It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.

As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:

This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times.  I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 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
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, 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
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, 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 Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); 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

A Fun Day But Tough Mariners Loss in Baltimore (8/6/2012)

August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season.  So we had to make the most of it.  We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:

When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout.  So that’s where we headed.  As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:

I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious.  He simply refused to smile at the time.  He does that at times.

We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard.  But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us.  I reached over and grabbed it.

Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!

Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…

…and then go through their stretching routine.

As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch.  As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee).  As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.

Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Jason!

Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips.  We just continued down the line.  We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us.  It trickled down the stairs right to us.

With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner.  At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season.  As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.

I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!”  Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim.  He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something.  He was.  It was the baseball bag.  He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction.  Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short.  No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.

Thanks, Felix!!!

Moments later, Felix started signing autographs.  We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix.  I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…

…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.

Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)

On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph.  He said something hilarious:  “Felix’s autograph is so cool.  It’s part signature and part letters!  You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature?  Well, this is both signature and letters!!!”  (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).

Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:

Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.

This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated.  Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back.  Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye.  The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball.  So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two.  It was mighty impressive!

When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting.  Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats.  Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball.  Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right.  It was definitely going into the stands.  I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it.  The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it.  But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!

The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.

Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:

And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again.  Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph.   So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it.  As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout.  Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball.  Awesome!

Thanks, Oliver!

While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley.  Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids.  And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.

Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys.  At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process.  I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.

It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?”  And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”

Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing.  Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph.  But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out.  I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys.  Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:

Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan.  And it actually did the trick perfectly!  Kellan loves when he gets a baseball.  His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”

And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)

Double thanks, Shawn!  Keep up the good work!

Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens.  Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:

While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me.  We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born.  Well, it is time to reset that clock.  Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.

A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me.  Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:

Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.

That was it for BP.  Time to hit the kids’ play area.  We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:

After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…

…and then Tim did some pitching:

As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”

After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:

He was looking pretty good.  And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July.  So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.

Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second.  So we did.  We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:

But something was amiss.  Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream.  Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:

In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle.  He screamed throughout the national anthem.  I knew we couldn’t stay there.  Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.

We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…

…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:

But he still didn’t want his ice cream.  So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…

…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.

The Mariners failed to score in the first.  Then it was Vargas’s turn:

Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.

Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second.  They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work.  But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.

We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:

I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball.  Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:

While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans.  He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):

Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:

When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…

…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth.  Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.

In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi.  He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?”  Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time.  I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”

That did the trick:  Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.

Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me.  I had no clue who that was.  But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.

We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012).  Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college.  It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball.  Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).

Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park.  It looked sort of like this:

Here’s what happened.  We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing.  Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line.  I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce.  Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce.  Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help.  The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy.  You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.

My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot.  But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this.  The kid was drenched in blood.  My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on.  Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way).  He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood.  The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.

I have no clue what happened to the kid.  My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.

All sorts of cops and security people ran over.  The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.

Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on.  All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement.  Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all.  My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head.  Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all.  She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell.  Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.

The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her.  They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).

Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce.  The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them.  Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes.  Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.

There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it.  I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera.  It was a very serious and unpleasant scene.  It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling.  Who knows.

We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:

Soon, we headed behind home plate.  The Mariners were still losing 3-0.  They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.

We headed  behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings.  Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:

Okay, usher.  If you insist!

I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.

Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:

At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.

Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:

Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:

Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.

But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be.  Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:

That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1.  Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.

After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:

And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:

Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field.  Hooray!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

17/15 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
26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez

 Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards:

Orioles Win One For Frank Robinson (4/28/2012)

During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards.  But the weather outlook was sketchy.  Rain seemed to be in the forecast.  And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game.  I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain.  But on Friday, I made the decision:  Kellan would definitely join us.

So let’s do it.

It was our first night game of the season.  After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:

When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…

…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).

Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…

…and so were we.  In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold.  Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person.  Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.

Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:

The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m.  The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others.  As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart.  A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…

…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures!  The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards.  (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).

I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person.  But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony.  So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened.  As usual, we headed for the third base line:

Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house.  His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out.  Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):

That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far.  In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business.  It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me.  But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.

Thanks, Camera!

And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!

By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet.  But it was a great moment anyway.

Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:

Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned?  During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:

We decided to head over there for a little peak.  But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.

We decided to head off to the restroom.  Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:

He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”

And get back out there we did.

We headed back to the third base line.  Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea.  Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP.  He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.

Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim.  We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player.  But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:

Thanks, Mr. Miller!

Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):

It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball.  It rolled all the way back down to the first row.  I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.

Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling.  They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…

…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system.  It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.

Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi.  We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled.  Out came the tarp:

And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:

We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time.  I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours.  When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start!  Yikes.  Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.

After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas.  The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining.  Here is what it looks like…

…and…

…and…

…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:

We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas.  I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…

…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture).  Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap.  I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it.  Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor.  It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.

Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.

When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:

In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.”  In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue.  Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.

All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:

Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool.  He’s a big fan of being cool!  Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh?  He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.

Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.”  Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.”  I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.

As the game started, it was time for some dinner.  Kellan and I shared nachos…

…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.

After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:

The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence.  Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.

Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field.  On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:

Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.

While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.

That made the score 5-0 Orioles.

We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:

And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:

He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.

When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):

Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:

Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:

And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:

Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.

While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit.  That made it 6-0 Orioles.  Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.

Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate.  This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:

Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.

During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate.  Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times.  While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”).  Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”).  It was pretty cute.

In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:

The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street.  After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.

I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.

We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk.  We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi.  We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.

And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate.  As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings.  Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult.  We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up.  He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.

Anyway, we went back to our same spot.  Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there.  In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?”  He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.

So we obliged him:

And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:

I took some random action shots…

…but the scoring was done for the night.

We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball.   As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea.  I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.

We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play.  But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.

We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.

No such luck.

But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.

As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap.  He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug.  He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.

The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.

Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.

An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:

Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and  came over to chat with us.  Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi.  Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:

Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):

Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim.  Cool.

When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves.  They were a secret.  When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home.  Something secret.  He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan).  But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.

So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards.  Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver.  Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim:  we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).

This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup:  Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan!  That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!

Stay tuned.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1
14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1
1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park
3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2011 (7/23/11)

Tim and I were in for a long day on Saturday, July 23, 2011.  We are members of myGameBalls.com, and by the decree of founder Alan Schuster, this game was dubbed “Ballhawkfest 2011.”  While the battle between the Angels and Orioles was the primary focus of Ballhawkfest, there was a lot more going on than just the MLB game.

Tim and I left home at about 9:00 a.m. and we arrived at Carroll Park Field #2 for a friendly softball game at 11:00 a.m.  Well, that was the original plan.  But the 100+ degree weather scared off some of the would-be participants and we did not have enough for a full game.  In fact, we only had 10 softball players.  But that did not stop us from having a great time.

First, we divided up into two teams.  My team included me, Alan Schuster, Mateo Fischer, Mike Rowles and the late arriving Ben “Wild Thing” Weil.  Our opposition included Zack Hample, “Flava” Dave Stevenson, Oliver Rowles (Mike’s son), Alex “Gold Glove” Kopp, and Garrett Meyer.

In the dugout, we had Jona (of Team Hample fame), Tim (who kept busy keeping score and hitting whiffle balls), and James (a documentarian who is filming a piece about Zack).

I have no clue how we decided the rules of the game, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a very interesting format.  We played seven innings of super-modified homerun derby.  At the outset, Zack pitched to both teams.  Once Ben arrived in the third inning, each team pitched to itself.  Each inning, each batter got two outs – one hitting a softball and one hitting a baseball.  All fielders played in the outfield.  Any ball that landed in the outfield grass without being caught on the fly scored one run.  Any baseball hit over the outfield fence scored five runs.  Any swing that did not result in a run was an out.

It was hard to get pictures because we kept running in and out from the field to the dugout.  But here is the best of what we got.  First, Alan Schuster sized up a sweet Hample baseball pitch:

Interesting side note, for the baseball portion of the derby, we used Alan Schuster’s entire MLB-snagged baseball collection.

Zack was a quality pitcher for our first two innings:

I was happy to take him yard twice.

The final score was high because homeruns counted for five runs each, but really it was difficult to score runs because everyone played stellar defense.  Would you expect any less from this group?  My unofficial Gold Glove award goes to Alex Kopp…

…pictured here in the red shorts.  He patrolled left field like a pro.  He was running all over the place and made a ton of great catches.  He personally robbed me of several runs.

In the dugout, Jona was busy taking tons of pictures (by the end of the day (including the MLB game) she took over 900 photos)…

…and Tim used a spray bottle of cold water to keep cool as he played.

It was harder to score with the softballs because they did not travel as far as the baseballs.  Here is Mateo putting a good stroke on one of Ben’s neon yellow softballs:

Special thanks to Jona for taking a couple shots of me at the bat.  Here I am turning on an inside pitch from Benny Bang Bang and driving a homerun that stayed fair by about five feet:

This picture looks better than the last, but it resulted in only a one-run hit, not a homerun:

The game was tight until the bottom of the fifth inning when we went off for 14 runs.  The final score was…

…44-29 good guys.  Zack and I tied for the most homeruns with 4 each.  Alan Schuster also had one bomb.  Speaking of Alan, the game ended on a great play.  Zack was the final batter in the top of the seventh.  He hit a ball that was clearly going to land over the fence.  But Alan calmly drifted back to the fence, leaned his entire upper body over the fence, and, with full extension, flat out robbed Zack of a homerun.

After the game, we set up our cameras on a flipped over garbage can and got some group photos.  First at home plate:

From left to right:  (Front) Jona, Flava Dave, Tim, me.  (Back) Ben Weil, Zack Hample, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, Garrett Meyer, Alex Kopp, Mateo Fischer, and Mike Rowles.

I do not have a photo that goes with it, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Oliver made an amazing running grab on one of my swings.  I hit a deep ball to RCF that I was sure was going to score one run.  But Oliver ran…who knows, maybe 75 feet to his left and made the catch at a full gallop.  Excellent catch, Oliver!

Back to the pictures, we turned around and got another group shot standing at the mound:

I should note that Ben threw on some official Cleveland Indians “Major League” give-away glasses to complete the “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn look.  Nicely done, Ben!

Next, we all hopped in our cars and scooted across town to Di Pasquaele’s Italian Marketplace.  Matt Hersl, who skipped out on softball/baseball, picked the restaurant and it was a good one.  Tasty, tasty.

Tim requested a picture with the “chef”…

…and he posed with Alan and the Andruw Jones bobblehead that he won in the drawing Alan organized.  That bobblehead now rests on a bookshelf in Tim’s room.

Here is the best picture of our table at lunch:

That’s an official eating action shot!

Lunch wrapped up around 3:30 and people started to break up and head their own ways.  The plan was to meet up again outside the CF gate on Eutaw Street.  The gates would
not open until 5:05 p.m., and I was absolutely dreading the idea of standing in the sun at the gates for an hour or more in the 100+ degree heat.

So we found a very favorable alternative.  After parking in a garage on Eutaw Street, we headed to the Hilton on Pratt Street and found some empty couches in the lobby.  Soon, Mateo wandered by and the three of us ended up chatting for almost an hour while gate opening times drew nearer.

Actually, it was primarily me and Mateo doing the chatting.  Tim was spending most of his time monkeying around and spraying himself with his spray bottle:

We did not have tickets for the game yet.  As we relaxed in the Hilton lobby, I exchanged a bunch of texts with our Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller.  Avi arrived at the CF gate just about ten minutes before gate opening.  When we got the text that he’d arrived at the ballpark, Tim, Mateo and I left the air conditioned Hilton lobby and headed to the blisteringly hot gate at the CF side of Eutaw Street.

Before the gates opened, we said our hellos to the myGameBalls.com guys whom we’d dined with just an hour or so ago.  We posed for a bunch of group shots (but not with my camera…so see here and here) and then every headed toward LF as the gates opened.

Everyone, I should say, except us.  We headed to the shady third base line where (among all of the Angels stretching in front of the dugout) we found former-Mariner Russell Branyan (no. 39):

It is always good to see a former-Mariner, even if he’s playing for one of our A.L. West rivals like the Angels.  Actually, there is another former-Mariner (although one who was never an everyday player for the Mariners) in that picture, Adam Jones.

After a few minutes, we drifted down the line a bit toward the outfield.  Right along the foul line, Osaka Japan’s Koji Uehara (wearing tight running pants under his shorts in the 100+ degree weather) was chatting with Toyko Japan’s Hisanori Takahashi:

Maybe they were discussing the “cultural fault lines” between their respective hometowns.  Or maybe they were discussing the fact that Takahashi (April 2, 1975) is exactly one day older than Uehara (April 3, 1975).  Whatever they were discussing, it did not prevent Koji from fielding a batted ball and walking over and handing it to Tim.

As Koji approached, I said “Hey, Koji, could we get a picture with you?”  He said, “Yes.”  And then he handed the baseball to Tim, turned around and walked away.  Hmm…I don’t think he understood my request…I probably should have asked him in Japanese.  Nevertheless…

Domo arigato, Koji-san!

A few minutes later, Russell Branyan finished playing catch with his partner and he flipped the baseball to Tim.  Tim just watched the ball sail by his face and land in the empty seat next to him.  But no one else was around, so we picked up the ball and no error was charged on the play.

As he tossed the baseball, I asked Russell if he could pose for a picture with Tim.  Sure he could:

After the photo but before heading back out onto the field, Russell reached out his humongous hand and gave Tim and I each a mighty hand shake.  They don’t call him Russell the Muscle for nothing.  That dude is huge.

All of the myGameBalls.com ballhawks were going crazy out in LF chasing homeruns.  Around this time, Avi came and visited us in foul territory so he could inform us that our prank of Zack Hample had been successful – for the complete story click here.

While Avi was over chatting with us, someone sliced a foul ball about 10 rows behind us.  It hit the seats and ricocheted right to Avi.

A few minutes later, Takahashi’s interpreter and trainer Yoichi Terada (at least that is my assumption of who this guy is)…

…walked by and handed Tim a baseball.  Terada had been playing catch with someone…maybe Takahashi…along with all of the other Angels pitchers playing catch along the LF foul line.  When he finished, he picked up two baseballs (including the baseball he gave to Tim) that were sitting on the ground along the line.  The two baseballs were *extras* that were brought out there in case someone lost their warm up ball.  Those baseballs were never used, and the one that Terada handed to Tim looked like it was brand-spanking new.

Eventually, Tim asked to go check out the bullpens.  We did, but no one was in either.  So when we spotted Jona sitting in the shade in the first row above the cross aisle, we joined her for a little bit of sun relief.  This is what it looked like:

And that is where we were standing when Dan Haren…

…unloaded a mega-toss-up over section 84 and directly into my glove for our fourth and final baseball of the day.

After BP ended, most of the myGameBalls.com’ers gathered toward the bottom of section 86.  Most of the guys were there in hopes of snagging one of the 8 or so homeruns that had been hit into the Orioles bullpen.  But we were just there to chat with the others, chew on some of the free ice the Orioles were providing in the concourse, and to spray Tim’s spray bottle all over the place.

Our “Ballhawkfest” shirts had our names and the number of baseballs we had snagged in our lives (through the all-star break) on the back.  Just for kicks, I got this picture of Tim and Zack showing off their numbers and they watched the empty field:

Not too shabby, Tim is (or was!) only 5,052 baseballs behind Zack.

Eventually, the Angels starting pitcher (and former-Mariner) Joel Piniero made his way out to CF to warm up:

When Piniero moved to the bullpen, Tim and I headed up to the top of section 86 to watch Joel:

Well, I watched Joel.  Tim spent most of his time squirting himself in the face:

With the game just about to start, a bunch of us met up in the LF corner for a group photo with the baseballs we had snagged during BP:

Lets see…going clockwise: Zack had 5 at the time (including a special FeMeBe baseball from Jeremy Guthrie), Alex Kopp had 4, Garrett Meyer had 4, Flava Dave (who you can
hardly see except for his arms) had 4, Jeremy Evans (who was a late arrival) had 1, Alan Schuster had 3 (his first 3 of the season), Oliver Rowles had 5, Tim and I had 4, Avi had 3, and Jona and Ben each had empty hands.  FYI, those are not necessarily final totals.

Right before that group photo, the Orioles PA announcer informed us that the game time temperature was 102 degrees.  We were hungry and hot.  So Tim, Ben, Avi and his
girlfriend Beverly, and I headed to the air conditioned club level.  Avi and Beverly headed to section 258 to watch the game in person.  But Tim and I grabbed a table in front of a big flat screen and ate dinner:

After a few minutes, Ben joined us.  We had been out in the hot sun so long that we were in no rush to head outside and watch the game in person…the air conditioning and flat screen were a-okay for us.  We stayed in there until the fourth inning!  After eating, Tim entertained us with some extreme high pants…

…and some fake DJ’ing on one of the nearby easy chairs:

While we were eating dinner, Ben and I discussed (among other things) the definition of a “ballhawk” and whether we qualified under that definition.  Personally, I don’t think of me and Tim as “ballhawks” because we don’t go to games with the purpose of getting baseballs.  We go to games because we love baseball and want to experience all that a Major League game has to offer.  It just so happens that trying to get a baseball during BP is one of those experiences…and an important part of the game experience since I was a little boy.  But, when you compare us to the other participants in ballhawkfest, our *strategies* and *skills* are quite limited.  Essentially, Tim and Kellan are cute kids (players like cute kids…most people do actually) and we know where to stand during BP.  But, if that makes us *ballhawks* I suppose we can live with the title.  Although,
maybe a better title would be baseballhawks or ballparkhawks…or, simply, baseball fans.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, and it was a lot of fun chatting with Ben.  We actually met Ben at U.S. Cellular Field back in 2009, and we had a lot of fun with him on that day too.

Before joining Avi and Beverly in the seats, Tim and I walked the club level to check out what it had to offer.  Most of my pictures came out blurry (I guess because of the lighting) so I will just share this one of Tim and the Orioles Hall of Fame:

Here is what Camden Yards looks like from section 258 in the club level:

N.T.S.  (You know it, not too shabby).

By the time we arrived in the seats, the Angels had already scored all of their runs for this game.  In fact, all of the Angels runs came in the first inning on a 2-run homerun by Vernon Wells.

The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning courtesy of a solo shot by Adam Jones.  Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  And that was all of the scoring in this game.  While I was happy to see the Mariners division rival fall, it was sad that Piniero got tagged for the loss.

We sat in section 258 from the fourth through the seventh.  Tim spent most of that time unloading 3 squirt bottles full of water on Avi:

Avi laid down a rule that Tim could live with:  No spraying Beverly, but Tim could spray Avi as much as he wanted.  And Tim wanted to spray Avi a lot.  In the eyes, in the ears, on his shirt, on his shorts, back of the head, shoulders, elbows, a direct shot to the mouth, Avi was an excellent Target, and Tim was a happy triggerman.

Between sprays, Tim did a little spinning happy dance:

Before the Angels removed him in the bottom of the sixth, I got this shot of Joel Piniero on the mound:

As I said, gotta love former-Mariners.  Particularly, a former-Mariner who performed well and was a fan favorites while in Seattle.  And that describes Piniero.

Our bright yellow “Ballhawkfest” t-shirts served their purpose perfectly; it was easy to spot the guys all around the stadium.  Like here – we spotted Garrett Meyer sitting about half-way up the field level seats behind third base:

In the seventh, Tim and I decided to head down to the field level behind home plate.  On our way out of the club level, I had a little bit better luck taking photos.  This is the seating area where we ate dinner (at the empty table in the middle of the photo):

Oversized autographed baseballs art:

From left to right, that is Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell (with the notation “MVP ‘70”), and Cal Ripken, Jr.

A busy bar:

Orioles World Series trophies and four gold glove awards:

And six Orioles Cy Young Awards:

When I was taking the picture of Tim and the World Series trophies, Avi was standing behind me chatting with Adam Jones’ mom (and several other people).  When Jonesys’ mom walked by Tim she said something like, “Oh, honey, you should squirt me!”  Tim was still holding his squirter, but he did not squirt her.

We ended up sitting with Jona (who deserves special thanks for being so cool and chatting so much with Tim throughout the day) for the last couple innings.  She had been sitting in the last row on the ailse in section 32.  Before joining Jona in the back row, Tim tested out a double seat setup:

The Angels were trying to come back, but Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were too much for them.  Neither Bobby Abreau…

…nor Vernon Wells…

…could help the Angels.  Both grounded out against Gregg in the ninth.

Toward the end of the game, Tim enjoyed a twist ice cream helmet to cap off a great day…

…and after the game he used his water squirter to clean the ice cream residue from his dirty face.

After the game, the remaining Ballhawkfest participants met up again behind the third base dugout.  We got our picture with Alan Schuster:

Then Garrett (who was visiting from Kansas City) requested a picture with Tim:

Of course, with two cameras going, Tim was looking at one camera while Garrett looked at the other.  Doesn’t it always happen that way?

Here is one of the coolest pictures of the day:

And one more featuring everyone’s sweaty faces:

Once again that is (right to left): Jeremy Evans, Mateo Fischer, Zack Hample, Jona (she’s only got one name like Ichiro), Alex Kopp, Tim (posing with one of Garrett’s baseballs
because ours were packed away in my backpack), Garrett Meyer, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, and Benny “Bang Bang” Weil.

A great group of guys (and girl).  Ballhawkfest 2011 was loads of fun and a smashing success.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
18/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
54 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Kellan and Tim, 1 and 100 (7/16/11)

July 16, 2011 was a special day.  Most importantly, it was Kellan’s first birthday.  Yep, he’s finally made it to the single digits.  We decided to celebrate his birthday with a weekend trip to Baltimore with a whole bunch of friends and family.  The big event on Saturday (Kellan’s actual birthday) would be attending the game between the
Indians and the Orioles.  The following day, we would visit the famous National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

As an added bonus, the baseball game would be Tim’s 100th game.

Just like the Cleveland Indians, we stayed at the Renaissance Harborside hotel across Pratt Street from the Inner Harbor.  We started off with lunch a Tir Na Nog and then it was back to the hotel for birthday cake:

We were a little bit late to batting practice and missed out on most of the Orioles BP.  Right as we circled around to the 3B side, two Indians pitchers were finishing playing catch and one of them tossed their baseball to us.

A few minutes later, Avi Miller (decked out in full Indians garb) was chatting with Tony Sipp.  I called out, “Hey, Tony!  It is this guy’s first birthday, how about a picture!?”

Thanks, Tony!

Just a few minutes later, Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch.  A quick “Hey, Chad” later, he spun around and tossed his baseball to me, Tim and Kellan.  A few seconds after that, Durbin became the second major leaguer to hold the birthday boy:

In that last picture, the Orioles stadium attendant (Tom) has pointing at me and telling me to give him my camera so Tim and I could get in the picture.  The funniest part was when Tom delayed the picture so he could clear all of the people out from behind us – Tom apparently thought they were cluttering our picture with Durbin.

The picture of all of us with Chad Durbin turned out pretty hilarious…

…because Kellan is about to blink and his eyes are half closed.  He looks like he is falling asleep.

Earlier in the day, Avi had told me that the day before Zack Hample had pre-arranged to get the line-up cards from Manny Act after the game.  It would be awesome to get a line-up card for Kellan’s first birthday game.  So I figured it was worth a shot.

At the time, it was me, Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my cousin Nathan and his buddy Matt.  We all relocated from the 3B line to the seats behind home plate:

We spotted Manny Act hitting fungo on the 1B side of the batting cage.  Kellan and I scooted down to the first row on the side of the umpire tunnel.  Everyone else grabbed some seats, and Tim provided the entertainment:

Things worked out ideally.  I wasn’t sure if we would be able to get his attention.  But he ended coming over to the net on the other side of the umpire’ tunnel to talk to some
people he knew:

To get back to the Indians dugout, Manny would have to walk directly in front of us.  While we were waiting on Manny, an Orioles reporter (who Avi Miller has identified as Craig Heist)…

…came over and played with Kellan.  It was pretty funny.  The guy acted like Kellan was the cutest and funniest baby of all time.

And then Manny Acta walked by and stopped…

…to chat with us after I called out his name.  The discussion went something like this:

Todd:  Hi, Manny.  Hey, it is my son’s first birthday today.  I was wondering if there is any way that after the game we could get the line-up card with his birthdate on it?

Manny:  Oh, sure.  No problem.  But, it has to be after the game.

Todd:  Awesome!  Thanks so much.

Manny:  But, after the game!

Todd:  Sounds good.

Manny:  Yeah, but you have to wait until after the game.

Todd:  Cool.  Thanks.

Manny:  So just come down to the dugout, but not until after the game.

Got it.  I was excited to come back to see Manny, after the game, and see if he would remember us.

Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I spent the rest of BP out in left field, but nothing came of it…well, except for some nice family time:

So, it was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 7.  This picture is out of order, but here was our view from section 7, row 11:

There were 21 of us in all, including Tim’s buddy Sam…

…, who is the son of Colleen’s friend, Deb.

To start the game, we moved over a section so we could hide in the shade.  Kellan spent some quality time sitting on his aunt Kimberly’s lap:

In the bottom of the first, J.J. Hardy led off with a double for the Orioles.  He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  That made the score 1-0 Orioles after one inning.

At one point, the Orioles Bird showed up in the seats just below section 7.  I called out for whoever wanted a picture with the Bird to follow me.  And then began the slowest Bird chase of all time.  My crew included my sister-in-law Kimberly, my nephew and niece Gill and Kate, and Noah.  None of them had ever chased down a mascot before and they didn’t understand the urgency of a mascot chase.

Tim and I could have got our picture with the Bird and been back in our seats eating a pile of steaming hot nachos before this rag-tag group of Bird watchers made it to the
spot where the Bird used to be.  But the Bird had darted into a new section and was making his way through rows of fans handing out high fives and posing for pictures.

I repositioned our group at the bottom of the next section over where I predicted the Bird would return to the cross aisle.  While we waited, Kimberly posed with some displeased Orioles fans:

And then the Bird arrived on the scene and made Noah’s day:

When the moment came, Kate opted not to get in the picture.  The funniest thing about this picture is that I was the only person taking a picture.  The Bird is looking at the camera, and I have no clue what Gill and Noah are looking at…maybe they are watching the game!  And check out Gill with the classic Ted Williams glove on, ready to catch a foul ball.  Atta’boy, Gill!

The Orioles extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth when Derrek Lee singled in Nick Markasis.

With a group of 21 people to choose from, it was our first real opportunity to get one of the more difficult photos from the 2011 myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

15 people in 3 rows of 5, each holding a baseball.  Many thanks to (front row) Noah, Kate, Tim, Sam and Ellie; (second row) Jenn, Geralyn, Gill, Kristen, and Andy; and (back row) Mark, Kevin, Will, Matt and Nathan!

In the middle innings, it was time to hit the play area and get some dinner:

After having lots of fun on the fort, Tim gave us a huge scare by trying to inhale his hot dog and choking on it.  It was really freaky.  It was just like in “Field of Dreams” when the daughter chokes on a hot dog.  I slapped Tim on the back and he shot a two inch piece of hot dog out of his throat.

We’ve learned our lesson.  MLB games are nacho time, not hot dog time.

We had to hustle back to our seats because we were expecting something fun on the scoreboard.  But first there was more scoring.  The Indians tied up the score at 2-2 in the
top of the sixth on a double 2-RBI double by Mariner-child Michael Brantley.  The Orioles then recaptured the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning when Nick Markakis blasted a homerun to RCF.

And then our scoreboard message appeared out in CF:

Kellan’s first ever scoreboard “Happy Birthday!”  First of man, I am sure.

Then Avi and Zevi showed up at our seats to say hello, and I handed off a Mexican League (FeMeBe) baseball to Avi for a little prank I had in mind and with which Avi offered to help – you can see that story here.

Avi also told me that Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon would soon be heading back to the Dominican Republic to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the celebratory-shooting death of his cousin.  I figured I should take an action shot of Simon in case he gets convicted and never returns to MLB:

Of course, we got some random shots in the stands.  Like this shot of Colleen and Kellan seemingly in the middle of a staring contest:

And this shot of the Steeles as they get ready to call it a night:

And you know we had to get a brothers-in-matching-shirts shot:

It was a nice and relaxing evening at the ballpark.  The birthday boy got lots of attention…like here where he gets some snacks from Geralyn while I hold him:

Tim was his usual silly self:

In the eighth inning, Tim, Kellan and I relocated to some seats behind the Indians bullpen in hopes that Manny Acta would remember that he said Kellan could have the line-up cards.  Soon after grabbing some seats, Avi joined us.  And then a few minutes later, Colleen joined us as well.

Here was our view from the first seats we found:

Avi, Tim, Kellan and I eventually moved down to about the fourth row.  Nice seats. This doesn’t really do the view justice, but it looked  something like this:

Now, the Orioles were leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.  But then, on the strength of a trio of doubles by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Felix Pie, the Orioles put up three more runs to make it a 6-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.

Koji “Now A Ranger” Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the Orioles, but they did not bring him back for the ninth.  Instead, they went with Kevin Gregg.  It was not a good decision.  Gregg was anything but clutch.

After striking out the first batter in the top of the ninth, Gregg walked the bases loaded.  He then struck out the Lonnie Chisenhall for the second out of the 26th out of the game.  As Orlando Cabrera strode to the plate and the Orioles still leading 6-2, Avi declared, “The Orioles are going to win this game 6-5.”

He was spot on.  Cabrera laced a double to the RCF gap.  It cleared the bases and made the score 6-5 Orioles.

Buck Showalter had seen enough of Mr. Gregg.  He got the hook and was replaced by Mike Gonzalez.  Three pitches later, Grady Sizemore grounded out to first base and that was the ballgame.

I was did not have high hopes of actually getting the line-up card for Kellan because the Indians started filing into the tunnel to their clubhouse instead of out onto the field
for high-fives.  But we walked down to the first row right above the player exit to the clubhouse.  Just then, Manny Act walked by.  He looked up and saw me and gave me a look that made it clear we were getting the line-up card!  I was excited.  Manny ducked out of view for a few seconds and then he popped out of the dugout, reached up high and handed me the line-up cards – not one card  (like the one taped to the dugout wall), but two (as in the official cards he kept in his pocket during the entire game).  They were beautiful.  One for the Orioles.  One for the Indians.  Each signed by the respective managers (Manny Acta and Buck Showalter.  And both emblazoned with the date of Kellan’s first birthday.

Outstanding.

Thanks, Manny!

Before heading for the exit, Avi took two family pictures for us – this one with Kellan finding the field much more exciting than the camera (can you blame him)…

…and this one (where we could at least see his face):

On the walk to the exit, I took this photo of Kellan’s birthday gift from Manny Act:

He is officially the first Cook to ever receive birthday gifts (two baseballs and two line-up cards) from Major Leaguers….of course, he is also the only Cook whose birthday is
during the baseball season, so he has an advantage over the rest of us.

All-in-all, it was a great night!

Ah, I almost forgot, we also got another baseball post-game behind the Indians dugout.  The next day was Noah’s birthday and we had got him a Rawlings baseball glove.
Conveniently, it was in a gift bag and not sealed up in a wrapped box, so I slid that baseball into the glove when we got back to the hotel and gave it to Noah at breakfast the next day.  I am pretty sure he likes the baseball more than the glove.

Speaking of the next day, we had a blast at the aquarium and Inner Harbor.

The National Aquarium is great.  Here is a family photo of us in the Australia exhibit…

…and a shot of Tim and his cousins looking at some fish…and it appears Tim is applauding the fish.  “Good job swimming, guys!”

Tim really loved the dolphins (who were practicing for their show):

That is Uncle Kevin holding Kellan in the dolphin arena.

Tim and Kellan both loved the big jelly fish exhibit…

…but the sharks were scary with all of those teeth.  Actually, Tim told me the scariest thing about the sharks was their gums!

After the aquarium, we took a water taxi…

…to Fells Point for an early dinner.

What can I say, it was a great birthday weekend for our little boy.  Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped make it extra special.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
17/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
50 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1
Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
12/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin
Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Ballhawking Prankology 101: The Plant

In case anyone who reads this blog hasn’t seen this yet, I thought I would share the guest column I wrote recently for myGameBalls.com.  Enjoy:

Here are a couple bonus pictures.  First, Tim with one of the FeMeBe baseballs:

Here is a photo by Avi Miller of Jeremy Guthrie standing in LF with the FeMeBe baseball in his glove pre-toss-up:

Here is a group shot from the myGameBalls.com “Ballhawkfest 2011” featuring the FeMeBe baseball:

Finally, Avi and I did not tell Zack about the prank or the article.  We wanted him to find out about it through normal channels…just however the news would reach him.  I’m still not sure how the news got to him, but a few hours after the article was posted this message from Zack showed up on Twitter:

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!