This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia. Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.
The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012. Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks. But the boys and I had Phillies tickets. The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.
We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m. Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.
We made it to the LF gate…
…in plenty of time. In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35. We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.
Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports. But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule. They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game. But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.
The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining. Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.
The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…
…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast). Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.
Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too. That concerned the Phillies too.
When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:
No BP. Sad.
But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch. There was only a small gathering of fans out there. I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd. There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.
See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?
Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys. We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP. To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium. Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain. But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.
Thanks, Carlos! And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!
Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend. I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening. So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…
…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt? Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear. She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).
Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:
And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:
I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear. But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.
Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone. One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:
Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout. There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us. And that means that Harrison got snubbed. Sorry, Harrison!
Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:
I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too. They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.
Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…
…toward the RF seats.
The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens. That’s where we met up again with Harrison:
I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen. In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence. When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.
But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…
…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen. It was right behind the home plates . It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.
Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.
Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had thrown? Well, it was still there. There was no one on the field. We just sat around chatting awhile.
Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track. When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball. The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:
It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison. I was happy for him.
But then Harrison started walking closer to RF. “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.
See the girl in the red shirt above? That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF. Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball. I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.
But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row. And guess who got it in the scramble?
Not Harrison. Darn.
So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen. Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan. Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:
That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food. It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined. Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.
It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF. The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102. It was raining. We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…
…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation. This is what was happening on the field:
It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.
When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:
We just kept sitting and chatting. The stadium started filling up a lot more. Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…
…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing. Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.
We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:
I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her. It was pretty hilarious. Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.
At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:
They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp. I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast. Kellan was ready for some Major League action:
When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen. It was like a chess match with the young girl. It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:
It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it. A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.
The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field. The Phillies never made any announcements. Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.
Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night. They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night. Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:
When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store. On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…
… and a panorama from the back of the section:
The boys had fun playing around in the team store:
I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff. And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:
It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time. We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours. Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain. It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.
The boys and I started to head toward the exits. As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen. I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night. But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most. By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:
I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway. As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed. We hung out for a minute. And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:
We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more. After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked? That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.
We waved him down and…
…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.
Holy cow. I couldn’t believe it.
The ball was SOAK and HEAVY. Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:
And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below. I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy. He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.
By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.
And with that, we called it a night. On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.” Tim was all for it. We didn’t have any other plans.
So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.
There was a 1 o’clock game. Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.
We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work. But it was completely different with Phillies. I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats. I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield. They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office. So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.
Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking. When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits. Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:
It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.
We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103. I was pretty excited about that. We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.
We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened. Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.
We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:
They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:
But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.
When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:
Check out all of the activity on the field:
So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:
Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!
Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…
…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.
When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim. Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…
…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands. Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.
Double thanks, Jesus!
We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…
…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.
Then we played a few games…
…and collected a few game stamps.
We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:
Check out our AWESOME front for seats:
The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own. So we were packed in like sardines down there.
But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:
Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet. I very seldom agree, but I did at this game. And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:
Those pictures don’t do it justice. Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream. While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.
The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd. Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs. I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:
I did, however, get an action show of Tim:
Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:
The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:
Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double. Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.
Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:
There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…
…and be right on top of the action.
While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence. This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:
Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back. Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles. The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF. Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…
…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies. Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom
Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place. We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks. But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game. So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:
Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.
After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:
If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize. Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right. And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.
Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…
and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:
The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty. We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats. It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.
Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double. That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.
Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them. You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge). Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.
Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:
Row 6 is only four seats across. I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).
The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge. The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…
…screaming through the megaphone.
A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:
It was pretty hilarious. From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field. The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.
The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead. Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”
The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh. The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B. However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored. He hopped to his feet and shouted:
TIM: “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”
TODD: “No, they didn’t. Ruiz stopped at third.”
TIM: “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”
It was pretty hilarious. And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case. It was really amazing. I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times. AT LEAST!
At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.
And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball. And that resulted in another cool moment. Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob. I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him. But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch. It was pretty awesome!
Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:
Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!
Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:
During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:
Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader. So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day. Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.
Phillies win 7-4:
As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!” Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.
Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:
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|
Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house. But it is also sold out every single game. Its crowded. It’s expensive. It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC. That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game. But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.
Actually, that has been the plan all season. I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”
All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible. But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best. When we arrived at the ballpark…
…the weather was perfect. Warm, but not too hot. Couldy, but try. Perfect.
Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:
At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans. In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats. Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory. It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF. So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.
When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts. Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him. My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.
A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was. But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan. As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?” He looked up and said hi. I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”
As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter. Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line. Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball. I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double. We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head. He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes. It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.
I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys. Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):
Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line. None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”
No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us. But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us. Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner). It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field. I was the only person who saw it. I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.
Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself. Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face: “Look what that guy gave to me!” It was the ball that had been hit over us. The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim. Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.
I panicked for a second. The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan). So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher. I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain. I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely. For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.
Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball. But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid. He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom. And he seemed happy to have it.
Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this. When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball. Alan called to him to toss it back. When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:
I’m not an NL guy. But I like Tommy Hanson. So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.
My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see. She agreed. But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!
Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best: 32 miles per hour!
We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:
We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge. We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m. So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:
Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his. I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food. She approved. Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle. We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me. I made the catch right in stride. And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!” It was pretty cool.
Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…
…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section. When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there. We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him. But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball. So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.
Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge. We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there. Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:
While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic. First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame. I’ve never see that happen before. Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley. That was just plain ridiculous.
Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo). It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.
That was good enough for us. We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…
Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before. The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache. But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.
We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:
The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats. Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:
Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area. While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide. The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee. While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single. That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.
We had seats in the upper deck. So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp. We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…
…and then we continued racing up the ramp. Tim always makes me race him up the ramps. And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over. When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:
And then we went and found our seats. I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season. I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where. Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424. It was actually a very nice view of the game:
From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…
…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.
And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:
We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:
See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats? This is what was on the other side of the fence…
…a massive drop off!
We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:
Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:
At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief. The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd. She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras. Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring. She was completely oblivious and into her dancing. He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him. But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring. He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…
…and then began the water works. She started crying like a little baby. Then she started hugging and kissing him. So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:
And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:
He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.
Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:
He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.
After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…
…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs. First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley. Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence. That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.
Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:
When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan. So Mommy was on ice cream duty. Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets. She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:
Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream. Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…
…; the first and only batter he would face. That made the score 8-0 Phillies.
The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.
We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up. As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving? The game is still going! Why are we leaving!?” That’s my boy. I love that attitude. Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day. So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.
On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:
And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).|
|76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|15/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; 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]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); 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.***2011 All-Star|
I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs. We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip. Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.
I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day. What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?
Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP. The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good. We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.
The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line. Perfect. It looked like this:
It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.
When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:
Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish. But there is no blah in Philadelphia. Check it out:
By the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.
After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…
As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:
Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:
Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:
We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:
…off of Roy Halladay. Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead. That score would hold up until the fifth inning.
After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse. I took this random shot of the concourse…
Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark. This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:
…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us. In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat. While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping. However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed. “Oh, no! Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked? “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied. I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.
Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet. Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:
In the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue. The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park. To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.
Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line. If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…
…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet. She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1. And it was more of the same on this day:
Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…
After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…
…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card. Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome. Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.
After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area. While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:
The play area was PACKED:
Carl Pavano meanwhile…
In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.
That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…
Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game. Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…
Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys. A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons. It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey. Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout. The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.
The other guys took three of them and said thanks. I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there. But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning. They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.
In the ninth inning, we headed down. They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats. We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130. This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:
Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:
Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…
On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.
It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us. But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd. It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra…
A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek…
Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:
It was time to head out. On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:
On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:
Citizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left. In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field. And to the far right is the Spectrum. You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).
And that’s all she wrote. It was a good fathers’ day. We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.
2010 Fan Stats:
16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
I mentioned in my last game entry that I’d met with a Senior V.P. of the Phils at the game on September 9, 2007, and he hooked me up with some sweet tickets for a future game. Well, this is that game. It was the Rockies vs. the Phillies on Wednesday, September 12, 2007.
Now, the date of the game was purely fortuitous. The guy from the Phils offered me two different dates, and I picked this one for no particular reason. However, while sitting in our great seats early in the game, I realized it was the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first MLB game. It took me about four seconds to determine that I would take Tim to a game on September 12th every year from now on. And thus was born, Tim’s MLB Annivesary.
(FYI, father’s out there, if you have the opportunity of creating a holiday like this for your son or daughter, I highly recommend it. I love Tim’s MLB anniversary and I look forward to it every season. Its always a special day. And I love the idea that some day Tim will be in college and we’ll coordinate where we are going to meet up on September 12th for his MLB anniversary game.)
Here is the view from Tim’s 1st MLB Annivesary seats…
(By the way, that’s a fixed up version of my first ever ballpark panarama).
For the second game in a row, we were joined by Tim and Gabe Greco:
Our seats were 8 rows behind the Colorado Rockies dugout…
This game was a preview of the 2007 NLDS. And it went about as well for the Phils as did the NLDS. The Phils got absolutely destroyed. But, things started out with a bang for the Phils (in a good way) in the first inning Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley treated us to the first live and in person triple play of any of our lives. It happened so quick (as they always do) I didn’t get any pictures. But I made the following to illustrate the big moment:
Cory Sullivan (who, as you can see, now plays for the Mets) led off the game with a single. A bunt single by Troy Tulowitzki moved Sullivan to second. So Matt Holliday (shown in his 2009 Cardinals uniform) stepped to the plate with two on and no outs. He was ready to do some damage. But it wasn’t in the cards.
With a 0-1 count, Holliday hit a hard liner — SIDE NOTE: as the ball was sailing toward third base, I yelled “TRIPLE PLAY!!!” — to former Mariner Greg Dobbs to retire Holliday (first out). As Sullivan was hung out to dry between 2B-3B, the Dobbers fired the ball to Chase Utley who tagged second base to retire Sullivan (second out), Utley then turn and tagged out Tulowitzki as he was still heading toward 2B (third out). The crowd went CRAZY!!!
Tim was pretty excited too…
I’ll tell you what, it was pretty awesome to witness a triple play. It took me over 30 years to see one. Tim witnessed his first before age 2, and in less than 10 games…not too shabby. Come on, how many people get to see a triple play when still sucking on a pacifier?
By the way, if you’re looking for information on MLB triple plays, look no further than HERE.
People were excited for the Phils to follow-up the triple play with some big hitting. Well, the people were disappointed. The Phils forgot their bats at home on this night. The Phils had a grand total of 4 hits on the night: singles by Chase Utley, Greg Dobbs, Jayson Werth and Chris Coste.
So it was back to the field for the Phils…
…I guess I should mention that Kyle Kendrick was on the mound. He had a solid year in 2007, finishing at 10-4. This wasn’t a performance for him to write home about.
With the great seats and all of the excitement in the stadium following the triple play, Tim was into the game…
…but all he got to see were a bunch of Rockies taking their hacks…
With these great seats, I started thinking there was a chance Tim could come away from the park with another baseball. This was the 8th game of Tim’s life and he’d already snagged 3 baseballs. But he had gone four games without getting one. So it was about time!
Then I spotted our opportunity: former Mariner Glenallen Hill. Tim and I were decked out in Mariners gear. Over the course of a 13-year career, Hill played half of one season (74 games in 1998) for the Mariners. But, nine years later, that didn’t stop me from acting as if Hill had played a hall of fame career for the Mariners.
Hill was coaching 1B for the Rockies. Each inning (after coaching lots and lots of Rockies baserunners), Hill would return to the Rockies dugout and stand right in front of us. After the Rockies infielders warmed up their arms, Todd Helton would toss the infield warm-up ball to Hill. After 3-4 innings with this happening, Hill decided to bestow one of those infield warm-up balls on the two biggest Mariners fans at Citizens Bank Park:
That is Glenallen Hill circled in the background as he coaches first base. Obviously, he didn’t throw the ball to us from 1B. He threw it from the dugout. Somehow, I didn’t take a single picture of Tim with the ball at the game. So, last night I took a picture of the ball Hill gave us sitting in Tim’s glove and I inserted it into that picture.
The Grecos are Phils fans. So we were rooting for the Phils to win. But the Rockies were in the middle of an improbable drive to the post-season and their bats would not be contained. The highlights for the Rockies included: Cory Sullivan 3-4, 3R, 1RBI; Todd Helton 3-4, 3RBI; Troy Tulowitzki 2-3, 2R, 2RBI; Matt Holliday 1-3, HR, 3RBI; and Chris Iannetta 2-3, 1R, 1RBI.
Phils got pummelled 12-0 and were left like a deer in the head lights, sorta like this:
As soon as we hit the car after the game, Tim was conked out asleep:
On April 19th, Tim and I headed to Philadelphia for our second game of the season, first in Philadelphia, and Tim’s first time seeing the Padres. In fact, I picked this game because I wanted to check the Padres off of Tim’s list. My goal is for Tim to have seen every MLB team play live by August 17, 2009 — when we will see the Royals play the White Sox in Chicago.
We had Standing Room Only tickets for this game. Personally, I think SRO are a great option for us. They are cheap and they come with no seats attached…Tim isn’t a fan of sitting in seats unless he has another kid there to entertain him. Otherwise, he likes to roam and see the park and all it has to offer. We did a lot of roaming at this game and got a lot of pictures to compile for panaramic views. Here is the first (behind section 131 or 130):
Citizens Bank Park has standing room behind the last row in the 100 level all the way from the LF corner to RF (out there by the bullpen, just above Shane Victorino in this picture). Many seating sections have a standing counter just behind the back row, which are absolutely perfect for me and Tim. Generally, I’ll stand and watch the game while Tim will scarf down his favorite ball park treats. While we stood here, Tim had his first ice cream helmet of the season! We try to get ice cream helmets at every stadium we visit. So far, last season and this season, only Camden Yards has dissappointed us thus far on the ice cream helmet front. The 3B field level ice cream place has consistently offered the biggest ice cream helmets we’ve seen at any park. Check it out:
Hey, check out that guy over Tim’s right shoulder in the first picture. Recognize that guy? Oh, yeah. That’s former Mariners great, Raul Ibanez. I recently named him as a reserve on my All-Time Mariners team. Actually, he is the best and most consistant in the storied history of the Mariners. However, I had to bump him to the bench so I could slide Jay Buhner into a position he played only 16 times in his Mariners Hall of Fame career.
One thing I enjoy about the Phillies is that they, thanks to former GM Pat Gillick, always have a fresh stock of former Mariners. The most notable in recent years include the M’s all-time winningest pitcher, Jamie Moyer (the number 2 starter on my All-Time Mariners list), Freddy Garcia (my no. 4 all-time Mariners starter), benchman extraordinaire, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Franklin, and now, Ibanez. This was my first game seeing Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul as a Phil, so I stocked up on lost of Raul picts, plus a special one below. However, getting to that, lets compare to pictures that illustrate my Mariners-Phillies connection theory.
This first picture is of the mighty Ibanez stepping into the box at Safeco Field back on July 19, 2008. Just above the Indians catcher, you’ll see Mariners all-time third-base coach Sam Perlozzo giving Raul the “rip a homer” sign. Okay, now fast forward back to our current game.
Here is a shot of Raul leading off 2B after hitting double for the Phighting Phils. And, who, I ask, is coaching Raul around the basepaths over there at 3B? Why, its all-time Mariners 3B coach, Sam Perlozzo! Like I said, there is always a host of former M’s to cheer while in Philadelphia, and this game was no except.
While Tim ate his ice cream a couple things happened. First, Raul Ibanez dove for a low liner hit by some Padre…not sure who. He missed it and it went to the wall for a run scoring triple. The hitter than scored a few minutes later. So, the general feel was that Ibanez was on the hook if the Phils lost a close game. Second, and on a happier note, the Phillies Phanatic made an appearance near-by. Apparently, it was the Phanatic’s brithday. After meeting the Orioles Bird last week, Tim really wanted to meet the Phanatic. But it wasn’t in the cards. Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch him:
Anyway, back to the game. After Tim polished off his ice cream, it was time to start roaming the park. First, we stopped by to see the World Series trophy (located in the LF nook by the “Schmidter” stand) and headed up the ramp to the upper-deck.
Here is the view from up there:
As you probably known, the Phillies’ hall of fame announcer, Harry Kalas, died a week ago in the broadcast booth before a game in Washington, D.C. Outside the stadium there was an fan memorial to HK on the Mike Schmidt statute. The Phillies also painted HK’s signature on the field with a notation “HOF 2002.” One of the main reasons I wanted to go up top was to get a picture looking down on the Kalas signature:
While up there, we took the opportuntiy to get a few more shots including the skyline, the bullpens / Ashburn Alley, and a video Harry Kalas singing “God Bless America” on the big screen (actually taken from Ashburn Alley after coming down from the upper-deck):
While in the RF upper-deck, I took some pictures to make this panaramic view:
While standing here, we took a minute to tie Tim’s shoe. Then we started walking toward center field. While en route to center, about 30 second after this photo, Chase Utley hit a home run that went just below us.
Next, we headed down to Ashburn Alley and, from there, cut over to the 1B side where I took more photos for a very similar panaramic view one left below and 1-2 sections over from the last one:
Not much happened in the game while we were in the upper deck. After Utley hit his home run, Adrian Gonzalez hit one for San Diego. By the time I took the photos above, the Phillies were batting in the bottom of the 7th and trailing 4-2 (remember the Ibanez missed diving catch discussed above!).
During the 8th inning, we found ourselves stationed almost directly behind home plate. It was a great place and we were able to get a space at the standing counter where Tim enjoyed some popcorn while sitting on my shoulders (as he had been doing for most of the game after his ice cream).
The spot was perfect for getting some more shots for a panaramic view:
In the bottom of the 8th, Jimmy Rollins, mired in an early-season slump, pinch hit. I got this shot of the pitched ball approaching J-Roll…he’d swing at this pitch and hit a homerun into the LF seats:
After Jimmy’s HR, the game moved to the 9th with the Padres still leading 4-3. Tim and I came full-circle and finished the game standing behind section 130. Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the 9th with a single. And that set the stage for redemption: Raul Ibanez strode to the plate ready to atone for his missed play early in the game. Raul did not disappoint. I got the following picture as the pitched ball approached Raul’s bat for what would a split second later become a game-winning, walk-off homerun (you can see the ball a couple feet in front of Raul right on the grass/dirt line of the 1B line:
As you might have guessed, the place went crazy. Lot of cheering by happy Phils fans. I was quite pleased that a former Mariner was the star, and that Tim got to see Raul hit a home run. Actually, it was a great game for HRs: Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, and Adrian Gonzalez.
I should note that Ryan Howard hit a triple in the first inning, but we missed it because of the terrible parking situation caused by the combo of a baseball game and hockey playoff game occuring roughly at the same time that day.
During the celebration, I got someone (actually that guy in green at the far left of the last picture) to take a picture of me and Tim:
Another great game!
Season Fan Stats:
2 Stadium (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park)
4 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres)
1 Ice Cream helmet(s)
2 Awesome Days of Baseball