Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…
…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.
Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:
We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:
Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.
Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…
… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.
The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…
…and running around between the growing lines of fans:
Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:
And Kellan declared it to be banana time:
He destroyed that banana!
Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:
Thanks, Mets guy!
We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.
We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:
At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:
As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.
Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.
We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.
Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:
First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.
Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.
Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.
Thanks, again, Ervin!
Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):
We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…
…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.
On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:
Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:
And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…
…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”
Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:
We headed to Shea Bridge…
…where it looked a lot like this:
The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…
…struck out swinging.
We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:
Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:
For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:
Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….
…and section 531:
It was windy and freezing up there!
Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!
If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:
Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:
It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…
That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:
Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:
When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.
So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.
I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:
Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.
Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.
(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).
For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:
Check out these silly guys:
The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…
…hit a sacrifice fly.
Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.
After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:
After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.
We had a great day packed with fun and…
…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.
|2014 Fan Stats|
|5||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)|
|3||Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)|
|27||Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff|
|5||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)|
|1||Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)|