On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park. And it was a special one because we weren’t alone. We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.
Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons. So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.
Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia. There was an interesting parade going on…
…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.
We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…
…before the gates opened. After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…
…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan. And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF. That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.
As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day. I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.
Things started off normal enough. We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened. Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan. Kellan was wearing his glove. When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it. “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.” And that’s just what happened:
Things were quite in LF. Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened. But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.
Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:
Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.” In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track. A great catch by Tim!
Thanks, Rod and Antonio!
There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.
Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen. I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield. Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield. Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:
Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench. He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!
Thanks and thanks, Eddie!
So, there you go. The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs. We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.
While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate. In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games. So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.
And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened. Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…
…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance. We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge. Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.” And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims: Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson. Bot had eluded us. But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim! How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim. As the green “7” above suggests, it worked!
We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.
But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate. Oh, no!
There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.
So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!
But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…
…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.” Tim replied, “No! Not this one!” He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.
“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”
But how many more opportunities would we even have!?
Well, luckily, we had at least two more:
Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me. And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us. Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?” And Maholm obliged.
Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!
So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.
And the day wasn’t over yet. In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!
Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…
…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.
Okay. Things were officially ridiculous at this point. So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits. We headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…
…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…
…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:
So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start. We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission. When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes. The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet. We wanted it bad.
So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…
…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.
At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:
I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench. He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was. I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.
As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?
He tossed Tim a baseball.
Thanks, Jesus! You were truly awesome to us this season!
While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.
And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:
It took right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!
Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived. After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:
And then it was game time. We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:
(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).
Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:
We were in the first row of section 427. I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game. (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).
We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed. The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.
Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp. He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game. Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF. Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward. Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF. This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.
Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:
That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.
I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures. Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:
In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line. Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.
The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.
The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second. Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann. After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado. That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.
And Heyward to this loaded up…
…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…
…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play. Heyward ended up at second. Hey wouldn’t stay there long.
Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:
Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…
…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).
After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.
We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:
We also did some birding. Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:
(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird. Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).
Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:
This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies. Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:
(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)
At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI. Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit. But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.
By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.
After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves. And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …
…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…
…circle around home plate…
…, and pose with a pig…
…on our way to the kids’ play area:
Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:
I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed. It was pandemonium in there! And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:
Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing. That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.
We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.
Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…
…up the ramps to the upper deck. We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:
Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:
If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States. The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years. Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.
We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:
Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:
In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single. Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…
…at bat that we will ever witness. It looked like this:
It ended with fielder’s choice to SS. And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:
In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy. He needed to take a walk. On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:
With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd. Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…
…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:
Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:
I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…
…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:
After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball. Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.
When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:
Here’s what happened. We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130. There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club). As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row. I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight. I figured he must have stayed with Colleen. As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name: “Jerry!” He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.
Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below. He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us. He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion. And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).
Double thanks, Jerry Meals!
By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate. If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14). Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.
After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration. Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing. As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row. They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left. I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them. But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path. It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.
Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove. It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture. He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper. It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way. It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us. All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene. The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field. I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again. But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.
We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:
Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:
Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.
From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark. Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|26/24 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|
|42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, 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|
|151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6|
|24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, 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 Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (3); 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|
In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina. Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves. The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.
So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened. As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…
…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort. That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!
We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…
…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.
A couple Nats were playing catch in RF. See that red arrow in the picture above? We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).
When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…
…and Kellan made that hilarious face.
Tim looked around and was all like…
…, “Where’s Mateo?”
As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game. So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on. But Mateo was nowhere to be found.
But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:
I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game). When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.
When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us. But he completely missed the upper deck. He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball. On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads. Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.
Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location. And guess who the two attempt making player was that time? The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!
After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF. Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…
…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole. In that picture above, an usher yell is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole. Booo!
The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day. The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line. Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall. Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.
When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:
As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!
But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up. We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line. But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout. I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there. Not of one of them was missing.
Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters). We headed off in search of pizza. Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk. So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:
We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole. In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water. He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.
After eating, it was getting close to game time. But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area. Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area. We’d have to wait to get in. So we decided to come back later. Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:
The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats. We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:
We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):
And, ever better, they were free!
Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long. Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.
While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:
The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman. The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.
Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF. At this game, he shifted over to RF:
You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture. In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole. He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.
In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit. He got the hit. But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact. So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:
And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area. This time, it was all clear. Tim got right in and went to the playing. Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet. So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…
…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.
After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:
Tim was doing some great catching. His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months. I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense. Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more. Now he loves to play catch. I love it.
As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene. I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…
…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board. I have no clue what happened. But it was pretty crazy to see.
We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate. But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat. It was the bottom of the fourth inning. And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead. I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.
Nope. He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.
I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman. When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed? The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.
So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade. But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook! So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:
After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole. Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen. We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck. I figured we would give it another shot.
We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats. Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…
…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.
We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings. The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.
We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…
…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.
We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area. The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers. He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.
But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt. While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys. I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen. I called out, “Hey, Nelson.” When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look. He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.
When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look. And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms. It was well past his normal nap time.
We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area. Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone. We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…
…and only Tim succeeded.
I got Harper grounding weakly again:
He reached first one a throwing error.
Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…
…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen. Kellan was still asleep at the time. I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.
I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”
I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.
We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:
A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.
By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.
Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on. No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:
We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.
We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…
…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.
No problem there. Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:
Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:
As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:
Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…
…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.
When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:
I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners. By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…
…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).
When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…
…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.
I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:
I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot. One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:
It was pretty funny. She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way. But he was having none of it. I think he was enjoying the ride. So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.
When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face. So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.
Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:
As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops. The boys loved them:
Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation. Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|15/13 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|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, 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 Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris. I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.
Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris. Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines. I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.
We started out panning for go:
We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand. But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever! GOLD!!!
Panning was fun. But the real deal was the gold mine tour. If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.
We went down, down, down…
…into huge rock-walled caverns.
This was like old-timey movies. Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:
Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge. This mine has tons of cool stories. It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years. It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls. There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.
But the drills were nothing. The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling. In the picture below to the right…
…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.
After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike. The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.
In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and Braves. On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…
…and Warren Spahn.
Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen. The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line. We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:
This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen. The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench. A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen. It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof. It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench. It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us. I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.
The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim: “Gotta give it to the kid!”
Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):
Thanks, bullpen guy!
The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour. But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there. We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”
I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open. We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF. But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.” Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.
We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section. Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen. Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family. After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball. He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make up his mind what he was going to do next. I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie. Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim. I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.
Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one. Wait, later!” He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that. But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…
…above his head.
Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:
I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson. So we decided to head around toward foul territory.
As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:
We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.
I took this panorama from section 117…
…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.
Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout. Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there. Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.
Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball). The usher was a big fan of my shirt. In fact, he was a U-Dub alum. So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF. He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.
As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout. Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field. We found a nice front row spot right behind him:
When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF. Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…
…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing. It was a baseball! It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first. How odd. But we’ll take it!
On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:
Centerfield was rather uneventful. Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again. He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave. But that was it. He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.
Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful. Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball. Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me. It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence. It was right to me. I mean RIGHT to me. But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap. I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.
Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim. Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it. Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face. It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it. The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him. That was cool though. The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend. It was all for the best. While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.
A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim. It was very nice of him. But we don’t count balls from fans. I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us. So, when we visited the CN kids play area…
…I kept my eyes open.
While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad. He was wearing a cool little glove. I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP. And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him. Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was). The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it. It was win-win!
I have no clue what you call this thing:
But Tim loved it. It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls. The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.
Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:
Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this panorama:
We then got some nachos…
…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:
Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye. One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:
Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots. Both teams scored one run in the first inning. The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval. And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…
…and RBI walk.
The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross. The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.
It was time for ice cream. Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets. On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…
…and above the Braves bullpen:
We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats: if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet. He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them. They had a nice selection of flavors. Tim picked chocolate mint…
…and he loved them.
As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre. A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…
…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up. Soon enough, another girl joined them. I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…
…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools. My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.
Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.
The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…
…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground. The guy then grabbed the custom and left. It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.
Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:
I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face. The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.
It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet. It’s a terrible, terrible story all around. It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”
Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed. The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field. So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.
Back to the game.
The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings. Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:
All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!
In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:
I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.
Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:
Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk. They then returned requesting a penny. Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines. My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it! They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny. Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:
When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own. After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:
And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:
Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us. We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot! So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.
The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son. And the son delivered a nice shot:
The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game. Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop. And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating. So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from? Canned drum beating, you ask? Nah. The Braves wouldn’t do that. Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:
In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen. As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:
And this was our view of Jason Heyward:
Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…
…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.
When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).
We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen. Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:
When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season. We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.
As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting. The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making. But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting. They scored four runs all with two outs. Freddy Freeman led off with a single. He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout. Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward. Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game. Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run. Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.
It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game. Tim and I were pulling for it to happen. But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:
On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…
…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:
I would have preferred another comeback Braves win. But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.
The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 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]|
|18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).|
|62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 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)|
|11/3 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; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|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]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|2/0 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); 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.|
It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up. Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010. This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:
And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.” We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…
The BP situation was a little confusing. Well, just the beginning of it. We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF. On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time. But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour. We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.
But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium. So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone. But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium. We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us. It was almost empty in there.
This would prove to work to our advantage.
The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies. Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim. We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP. But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies. So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.
After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout. It looked like this:
There was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout. When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.” He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim. Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.
I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim. He showed me the pierogies. We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me. Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.
After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF. As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs. Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?” I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged. But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.
Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
After parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line. I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies. He was having a blast with those things.
I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:
Tim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies. He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below. Are are some random scenes:
See the bottom right picture? Someone hit a ball right down the line. There was an open gate to the field. I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area. By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open. There was literally no one else around us. I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball. But I didn’t. I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.
Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:
On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner. The second statue is Roberto Clemente. And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski. The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.
After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos. Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:
As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…
On our way back over to section 105, the game started. As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…
…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.
We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed. But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:
An usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets. When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets. I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.” The usher said we could stay there because Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets. He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.” I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.
Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…
Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…
On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot. He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”
By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot. And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.
We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:
Tim and I are usually on the go a lot during games. But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101. We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning. This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots. Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.
We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend. But he stayed calm. The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:
The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.
The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.
Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name. But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.
Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.
Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):
But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…
…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball. After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using. He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed. By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.
When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there. On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…
We didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday. We decided to check out the RF bleachers. We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.
Here was the view:
We made the wrong call. We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole. Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate. I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.” He did. It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole. The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.
With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!
We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:
We snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101. By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk. I’m guessing that is for VIPs.
Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…
Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…
Then the Pirates switched things up on us! Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.
But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…
Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate. So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures. I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…
…and a father-son picture behind home plate:
Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…
…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left). I took a zoomed in picture of the paper. Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke. At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE Inn. 6 Out 0 Runners none Count 3-2 Fly Ball Double.” I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting. This is “in game” scouting. Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME! That’s pretty cool.
As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:
But the fun didn’t end quite yet. We still had four hours in the car ahead of us. Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:
The mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum. I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.
In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh. I think it was just across the river in downtown. In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges. Very cool.
In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights. He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home. Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other. Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs. Good times on the road.
When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake. He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.
The weekend was a complete success. Thanks, Pittsburgh.
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)
19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and started making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This would be our first over-night road trip of the season.
I was really looking forward to this trip. We’d been to PNC Park before. In fact, in September 2007, it was our first ever father-son over-night roadtrip (and Tim’s first night ever away from home without mommy). But we’d never really explored the place. So that was part of the plan.
We had a blast chatting with each other and playing “I spy” and other driving games as we crossed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…
- I always enjoy the drive across PA because there are several long tunnels through “mountains” (if you were on the west coast you’d call these “hills”…mountains have snow at the top).
- The rest stop in the bottom left had special parking spots for “low emitting fuel efficient vehicles” like my Prius. But when we returned to our car, we found a Hummer H3 parked next to us in the “green” parking spots. Weak, Hummer driver. Weak!
- Tim LOVED our hotel room, which we got for a great price on hotwire.com…our first time ever using it.
It rained a lot during the day. But we headed to the park early in hopes of seeing BP. On our way over to the “River walk” entrance in LCF field, we snapped some pictures of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente…
When we arrived, the River walk was open…
…but the rest of the stadium was only open to season ticket holders. From the River walk, I could see the tarp covering the field. No BP. We killed time watching boats in the river and birds flying all around the River walk.
Half an hour later, we were behind home plate taking in this soggy afternoon view:
Soon, Billy Wagner came out of the dugout and started signing autographs right by the OF end of the dugout. We were about 40-50 feet further toward RF.
At the time, Billy was sitting on 389 career saves, one behind Dennis Eckersley and number 6 on the all-time career saves leaderboard. After signing some autographs, he headed to RF to play catch. On his way by, I got him to take a picture with Tim…
…as you can tell by his big smile, Billy was really nice. He was very happy to meet Tim and pose for a picture. And he got a kick out of our Mariners shirts and hats. Tim was proud to announce that “We like the Mariners!”
After signing one of our tickets…
Then, Takashi Saito came back out to RF to play catch again. Thanks to another MLBlogger (thanks, Nao), I know a few Japanese words, one of which is a polite way to say “excuse me.” As Saito approached us, I told Tim to say “excuse me” in Japanese and, if Saito looked our way, to ask him for a baseball.
As Saito passed, Tim called out, “Sumimasen!” Saito quickly looked over with a surprised smile and Tim asked him for a baseball. As he continued to RF, Saito showed us the fronts and backs of both of his hands as to say “Sorry, I don’t have one.” No problem. It was pretty cool just having him react positively to Tim’s tidbit of Japanese.
Saito then played catch with Kenshin Kawakami in RF as his interpreter watched them. When Saito and Kawakami finished playing catch, Saito headed back toward the dugout. On his way, he looked our way and then headed over to a teammate (Cristhian Martinez) who was stretching nearby and asked him for the baseball resting nearby in his glove.
When I saw this, I told Tim, “He’s getting you a baseball!” It was awesome. Tim’s request was going to work! Saito got the baseball and started walking over to us.
Then The Weirdest Thing Happened!
Out of nowhere, we hear someone on the field yell “HEY, SEATTLE!” I looked out to RF and saw that it was Billy Wagner. Billy held up a baseball and then fired a perfect strike to my chest right as Saito was approaching us with the other baseball!
I caught Wagner’s baseball as Saito watched on. I yelled “Thanks!” to Billy and then showed the baseball to Saito. We smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual “wow, that was weird” expression and I thanked Saito for the gesture. He then headed back to the dugout with the baseball he’d grabbed from Martinez.
A few minutes later, Wagner headed back to the dugout and I asked if he would sign the baseball he’d given to Tim. He grabbed the ball and pen and knelt down next to Tim again and said, “I’ll sign this baseball for you if you give me a big “GO BRAVES!”” Tim complied with a big “Go Braves!” Wagner laughed at Tim and declared, “You’re too easy!”
He then explained to me how he was going to sign the ball (as in, where on the ball). I said, “do it however you want!”, which was funny because 2 second later another guy handed him a baseball and said, “Can you sign it on the sweet spot?” (we’re not very demanding with our autograph requests).
Anyway, here is a picture of Tim a few seconds after getting the ball from Wagner…
Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!
Then, it was time to explore. I had an idea I’d been planning to do for a long time. Now was the time. It required us to walk to the LF upper deck. On the way there, I took this gloomy panorama over the visitors’ dugout:
The plan was to take pictures (hundreds of pictures) while we circled the stadium and then to make a 360 degree stadium video from them. You can see the finished product in our last entry.
By the way, the time stamp on our first 360 degree picture was 5:27 p.m. and the last picure was taken at 6:30 p.m. So, subtracting the 15 minute telephone call I had with my wife right as we made it into the field level behind the 3B dugout, it took approximately 45 minutes to take the 700 photos used in the PNC360 video.
Here is a panorama from the spot where I took the first of the PNC360 photos:
My original plan was to go all the way around the upper deck. But I was aiming my camera at the (tarp covered) pitchers mound, which made it so the Pittsburgh skyline was cut out of the pictures. So I cut diagonal down through the LF foul upper deck seats. However, do to this, I needed to get into the Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats at the lower portion of the upper deck. This is a special club for which you need special tickets — we didn’t have them.
Luckily, I did have a supercute kid. I tried to sweet talk our way into the club so we could go take pictures cutting diagonal through the seats. The lady working the door explained, “I wouldn’t let you do this, but he is just so cute.” So Tim’s cuteness got us in. I took a couple pictures in there but it is so dark they didn’t come out well. This is the best shot I got inside the club:
After passing through the club, we headed to the field level and took a hard-induced break. While I chatted with the wife on the phone, I took Tim’s Garrett Jones give-away action figure out of its box and gave it to Tim.
To put it mildly, he loves that action figure…
Hour an a half rain delay…
Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…
Everyone was hiding from the rain.
After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:
Tim couldn’t look at me and smile for that picture because they were showing a bugs bunny baseball cartoon on the jumbo screen. By the way, the price and choices of real ice cream (or soft serve) at PNC Park were outstanding. The “Pirates Buried Treasure” ice cream was ridiculously good…and Tim loved his mint chocolate chip.
As we sat in our pre-game ice cream seats (section 119), I took this panorama:
Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:
By the way, these are the general admission seats in LF. There are a couple rows of “reserved” outfield seats in front of these seats. How about another panorama? This one is from between sections 337(left) and 336 (right):
The Pirates came back with two of their own in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lastings Milledge and a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno.
We left the LF standing room area in about the 5th inning because a drunk Pirates fan was being excessively loud (in non-family friendly language) in his pointless taunting of a Braves fan (I’m not sure the Pirates have done enough to give their fans license to taunt…anyone).
Anyway, Tim wanted to explore the spiral ramp in LF and the upper deck. So we were off.
First, we checked out legacy square where Tim posed with some stars of the old Negro League:
Anyway, if you are at PNC Park check out Legacy Square. Can see little grey terminals next to each statue? Those are little TV screens where you can run a program that will tell you about each of these men. Very cool, Pirates. Good job.
Then we were off to the upper deck. Here is a panorama from the spiral ramp:
Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:
I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…
Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships…
Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck. Tim was taking it all in:
…who I personally rank as one of the most overrated players in the game. He was given a No. 1 starter contract by the Braves, but his career record is only 147-121 (with 85 career saves). Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally take a 147-121 big league career. But he’s no Randy Johnson or _________ (insert the name of any other true No. 1 pitcher).
Tim was getting super-tired by around the 6th inning, which was making him more and more excited. Eventually, he ran into a handrail (bumped his head) and that was enough upper deck for him.
On our way back to the LF spiral ramp, Tim had to show me the most “adorable baby spider” out in the concourse. Then we ducked back into the seating area to take this panorama from section 235:
After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:
Very briefly we headed back to the standing room area in LF. That’s where we were when Jason Jaramillo grounded weakly to future hall of famer, Chipper Jones:
We decided to go to RF to watch Heyward play the field. Tim was on my shoulders as we took the pictures for this panorama:
With sleeping Tim on my shoulders and a backpack full of rain gear, sweat shirts, long sleave shirts, extra t-shirts, two huge Garret Jones action figure pictures and who knows what else, my back was about to break under the extreme weigh.
So we took off early.
We missed Billy Wagner coming into the game and tying Dennis Eckersley in the all-time list with his 390th career save.
We walked to the car and I changed Tim into some night time sleeping cloths. He was still out. Then as we drove to the freeway, Tim woke up and asked “Is the game over?” He was a little upset that we left early, but he explained “I ran out of my energy.”
So we drove back to our hotel for the night. It was a good first day and game of the weekend roadtrip. We’d be back at PNC Park the next day for another game and we were already looking forward to it (and hoping the forecasted rain would stay away).
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
6 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates, Mets, & Nationals)
16 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
5 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
4 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)