In our continuing effort to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live, on July 13, 2013, we planned to attend the Phillies game vs. the Chicago White Sox. As American League teams go, the White Sox are right up at the top of the “Teams I Never Watch or Think About” list. So it was practically like we were all going to see them play for the first time.
The game started with a little confusion. It was scheduled as a 4:10 Saturday afternoon start. But the Friday night game the day before was rained out. So our game was turned into Game 1 of a Separate Admission Doubleheader (the worst kind of doubleheader). The problem was figuring out what time the game would start and the gates would open. Late Friday night, I pulled up an article about the rain out on the Phillies website. But what I didn’t realize at the time that the Phillies’ website linked me to the White Sox website, which is based in the Central Time zone. When I read the game was going to be played at 2:00 on Saturday, I didn’t realize it was 2:00 p.m. Central, or 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The Phillies twitter account was thoroughly unhelpful I might effort to figure the situation out. Harrison Tishler, however, had all of the answers (and once I realized I had read a Central time zone-based article, I finally believed all of Harrison’s answers).
Anyway, we met up with the Tishler men (no, Tami) outside of the LF gate. Unfortunately, due to the doubleheader, the gates only opened at 1:10…
…, normally they would open at 12:40 for a 3:10 game.
Because the gates opened later than normal, the entire stadium opened at once. So we wasted no time in heading over to our beloved pizza wedge:
When we set up in the pizza wedge, there were two groundskeepers working on the Phillies mound in the bullpen (which is pretty standard two hours before game time at Citizens Bank Park). Very soon, Harrison and Seth Tishler arrived on the scene. I asked Seth (and he agreed) to watch the boys for a minute while I ran up to the concourse to fill our water bottle at the drinking fountain. When I returned to the pizza wedge approximately 60 seconds later, Kellan had a baseball in hand.
Turns out that Kellan dropped his glove into the Phillies bullpen. One of the groundskeepers retrieved it and tossed it up to Tim. When Tim caught Kellan’s glove, this baseball was tucked inside Kellan’s glove.
At the time, not much was doing on the field. But there were signs of life. The White Sox were getting ready to take BP:
See number 17 in there? That is White Sox coach, Daryl Boston. Lemme tell you a little story about him…and about these two guys in the bright orange:
The Tishlers went off on their own as White Sox BP was set to get started. Shortly, Father and Son Orange Shirt showed up on the scene. See the empty seat in front of Kellan in the phone above? That’s seat number 3 in the pizza wedge. Tim, Kellan and I were taking up the corner spot plus seats 1-3 (our standard operating procedure at BP at CBP). There were zero other people in section 101. There was hardly anyone in all of RF. But these guys came in an camped out in seats 4-5.
They were nice enough folks. We chatted a bunch. But I was not a fan of getting crowded in the corner when the rest of RF was essentially empty. But the dad was gung-ho about getting his son a baseball from the bullpen (I explained that no one would be in the bullpen until around half hour before game time).
Anyway, eventually Daryl Boston wandered out to RF. He was in front of section 102 or 103 and he was hitting baseballs against the OF wall with a fungo bat. I could see his “17” on his back. Just then, the Dad in the Orange Shirt was flipping through one of the little booklets that lots of MLB teams give out that are full of info about the team and the current series, etc. It looked, to me, that he was looking at the White Sox roster. I looked over at the booklet (yeah, in an empty OF, the guy was so close that I could read the booklet in his hands) and scanned the “coaches” portion of the roster. There it was: No. 17 = Ron Wotus. [FYI, Ron Wotus is a coach for the San Francisco Giants, something I did not learn until much later].
As “Wotus” started walking toward LF, I called out, “Hey, Ron, Fungo!” and I flapped my glove. “Ron” immediately tossed a baseball into the air and tried to delicately fungo the ball to me. But it fell short. He tried again. It fell short again. Then he walked over and picked up one of the balls and tossed it up to us.
Thanks, Ron! (I mean Daryl!)
As you can imagine, Boston’s reaction to my “Hey, Ron, fungo!” request did nothing to dispel my thinking that Boston was Ron Wotus.
A few minutes later (while we were still waiting for BP to start), “Wotus” finished chatting with some White Sox in LF and headed over toward the “bucket.” For all the way across the OF, I once again yelled, “Hey, Ron, FUNGO!!!”
Once again “Ron” immediately looked over at us, tossed a baseball in the air, and blasted a pop fly high in the air toward us. But it was off line…and it was hit way too hard. There was a guy at the top of the bullpens along Ashburn Alley and I was certain it was going to plunk him in the head. I yelled, “HEAAADS UP!!!!!” (I yell that a lot at MLB games because lots of fans don’t pay attention). Anyway, the ball slammed off of the ball wall of the visitors (upper) bullpen, just below the guy on Ashburn Alley and it bounded down into the lower bullpen elevator. Sort of like this (minus this Tishlers and other people standing around):
Later, Matt Lindstrom walked by and I told him about “Ron” hitting the fungo into the elevator. He tried to get it for us, but the elevator was locked!
(By the way, you might be wondering why they have an elevator in the bullpen at a major league stadium, it’s because they put a bunch of the equipment into roller carts and then raise/lower them on the elevators. Otherwise, they would have to carry everything up and down the stairs.)
A little bit later, these two gentlemen played a part in our afternoon’s activities:
Number 40 is Ramon Troncoso. He was the only guy out in LCF not hiding his jersey with a pullover so he was the only person whose name I knew. The other guy? No clue who he is.
Eventually, I decided we should try to get a ball for the Kid in Orange. I ended up calling out “Ramon!” when he fielded a ball near us and, when he looked up at me, I pointed at the little guy. Ramon tried to toss the ball to the kid’s dad, but he tossed it too high. It sailed over him and I caught it and handled it over to the Orange Guys.
A few minutes later, the other guy in the picture above tried to toss a ball to us, but threw it over us and the Dad in Orange caught it and handed it to us. Then I proposed something that seemed quite logical to me: I caught the ball from Ramon Troncoso, the Guy in Orange caught the ball from the other guy, why don’t we switch balls so we have the ball I caught and the Orange Folks have the ball they caught? He thought my logical was sound. And so we switch balls. And we ended up with the ball I’d previously caught from Ramon.
So, thanks, Ramon…and other guy.
The Phillies ultimately came out and started playing catch in RF while the White Sox were hitting. We decided to take a break from BP. We headed to the concourse to play some “Games of Baseball”:
When we returned to the pizza wedge, the Tishler were there:
We hung out for a bit and then went and played some more “Games of Baseball.” When I figured the pitchers were starting to warm up, we headed back to the pizza wedge again. Turns out, we were too late. Warm ups were in full swing and our buddy, Jesus Tiamo, had already tossed out a bunch of baseballs. We headed to the end of the second row…
…and Tiamo couldn’t resist those two Mariners fans’ cute little faces. He went and grabbed another baseball and tossed it to Tim.
Wanna see something cool? Check this out:
That’s White Sox catcher Josh Phegley standing at the top of the stairs in the visitors’ bullpen. Right after Jesus tossed the ball to Tim, Phegley headed down the stairs from the visitors bullpen to the Phillies bullpen. When he hit the landing at the Phillies bullpen, he called out to us, and he tossed us a baseball. In the picture above, you can see this baseball in Phegley’s right hand!
Before the game started, we headed off to get some ice cream. On our way, we stopped by this misting contraption:
This is the only game we’ve ever seen this thing at in Philadelphia. It’s a good idea. The kids loved it. Not sure why it wasn’t there more often.
We decided to go with a banana split, because bananas are healthy, you know? I addition to two full bananas, our banana split featured ice cream, caramel sauce, white cream and maraschino cherries. When I said I wanted cherries, Tim protested – he doesn’t like them. I said, “Don’t worry, they’ll just put 1-2 on it and I’ll get them out of there quick for you.”
Well, I was wrong. Our banana split featured TWENTY-ONE cherries!
Check out this beauty of a sundae…
…and our long walk two the place where the boys wanted to eat the sundae:
The game started while we were out in the RCF concourse eating ice cream and then playing more Games of Baseball. The Phils jumped on the White Sox early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning.
While the boys were playing the games, I realized that “Bull’s BBQ,” which is between the running game and the trivia game is named after Greg “The Bull” Luzinski. One of the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt photos for this season is a picture of you eating a food item named after a player. I’d been looking for such a food item all season and I’d never thought about Bull’s BBQ. I’d never been there before. So I checked out the menu. Almost every item is named after The Bull! So before we grabbed some food for the boys and headed to our seats, I grabbed a “Bull’s Pulled Pork Sandwich”
Check out Tim (top left below), eating a big bite of the Bull’s Pulled Pork Sandwich in our seats:
And check out those great seats! I should note that this game was our last game before Kellan turned 3-years-old. It was his last *free* game at Citizens Bank Park. I scooped up these two aisle seats in section 102 on stubhub for cheap the morning of the game. And it ended up that the people with seats 3-6 were missing a seat mate who had to skip the game. So they didn’t mind having one of us sit in seat 3. Kellan wanted to hang out in the aisle the whole time, and watch the players in the bullpen. Section 101 and 102 are Citizens Bank Park are some of the coolest seats around.
Here’s a random action shot of Alexi Ramirez:
And here is our view of Citizens Bank Park from our seats in section 102:
In the bottom of the third inning, Jimmy Rollins ripped a single to LF:
It was the second Phillies hit of the inning, but the White Sox wiggled out of the jam.
In the fourth inning, we headed over to the kids’ play area…
…and the kids did a whole lot of playing:
We were in the play area in the fifth inning when Alejandro De Aza hit a 2-run double to tie the game up at 2-2.
In the top of the sixth inning, we left the play area and , we decided to head up to the upper deck for a while. We walked there via Ashburn Alley. Just as we made it to the back corner of the bullpens, Conor Gillaspie hit a sacrifice fly…
…and Adam Dunn scored the go-ahead run for the White Sox.
So we headed up to the upper deck, and we ran into something odd on our way:
There were a whole bunch of nuns up there.
Here was our view from section 428:
Check out Dominic Brown’s curious positioning in LF:
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Darin “Babe” Ruf, blasted a solo homerun…
…to deeeeeeep CF. That tied the game up at 3-3.
While the Phillies fans were excited about their team tying up the score, Tim and Kellan were excited about something else:
See that red arrow up there? That’s pointing at one of the steel beams holding up the light towers along the 3B side of the stadium. When we are up in section 428, Tim and Kellan often spit seeds down the middle of the light towers. On this day, while doing so, Tim and Kellan found some animal tracks on the beam. We couldn’t tell what kind of animal it was. But the tracks looked like they were the size of maybe a cat or a raccoon. It was pretty odd finding the tracks and imaging animals climbing around inside the stadium.
With the score tied in the 8th inning, we decided to head back to our seats in section 102. But when we got there, there were a bunch of empty seats in section 101 (the best section in the ballpark). We grabbed some seats in the third row. When an usher standing at the bottom of the stairs saw us, he told us to move up to the front row.
If you insist, sir!
This was our view heading into the top of the ninth inning:
So we’ve been listening to a lot of classic Metallica on our game day drives this season – mostly Master of Puppets, some Ride the Lightning too. On the way to this game, we listened to Ride the Lightning. When Jonathan Papelbon headed to the mound in the top of the ninth inning, I was a proud father when Tim pointed out that his entrance song (For Whom The Bell Tolls) was one of the songs we listened to (and discussed) on our car ride down to this game.
During the top of the ninth inning, Kellan focused on making silly faces…
…and monkeying around with his bro:
After the final out of the top of the ninth inning, the Phillies cleared off the field, and then came the rain, and the tarp, and a rain delay.
Up in the concourse behind section 102, we met up with Harrison and Seth. Check out these colorfully dressed guys:
The Tishlers volunteered to help us earn some points for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. I had noticed that the upper deck in LF was almost completely empty, and there was absolutely no one in the three sections closest to CF. So we all headed up there in the rain for this scavenger hunt photo:
We all headed back to the pizza wedge as the rain let up. I always enjoy getting a photo of the infield tarp pulled out to the outfield wall. Like this one:
After a 41 minute rain delay, the game resumed, and Tim shook the rain off his wet hair like a dog (well, he might have used his hands a bit too):
The Phillies should have won the game in the bottom of the ninth. Kevin Frandsen lead off the inning with a single. He took second on a Darin Ruf’s follow-up single. Braves pitcher Nate Jones then balked Frandsen to 3B and Ruf to 2B with no outs. But the next three batters couldn’t get it done. Carlos “Chooooooch” Ruiz flew out to shallow LF. Lance Nix struck out swinging. And Ben Revere ended regulation play with a line-out to RF.
So we got some free baseball. Remember, this was the first game of a separate-admission doubleheader. After a 41 minute rain delay, fans were already lining up at the gates for game 2 when our game headed into extra innings.
J.C. Ramirez pitched the top of the 10th inning for the Phillies.
During the bottom of the ninth inning, Ramirez warmed up right behind us in the Phillies bullpen. At one point, Ramirez uncorked a wild pitch to Jesus Tiamo. It kicked off the back wall and ricocheted out into the grass in front of Tiamo. They grabbed a new ball to finish Ramirez’s warmup session.
After Ramirez was finished warming up, Tiamo tossed the ball up us:
The ball was so exciting and the game so long, that Kellan drifted off to sleep in the tenth inning with the ball snug in his glove.
Ramirez held the Pale Hose scoreless in the top of the tenth. But…
…not in the top of the eleventh.
After recording two quick outs in the top of the eleventh, Ramirez gave up a triple followed by an RBI double followed by an unearned run scoring grounder to short.
The Phillies mustered one run in the bottom of the frame, but that was all she wrote. The White Sox won 5-4 in 12.
After the game, we got a Cook Boys photo…
…before heading to the gates and pushing our way through the in-bound crowd.
We drove off into the sunset…
…on our way home while the Phillies began their second extra-innings game of the day!
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|18 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox|
|31 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 3, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|82 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 14, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|
Since Kellan’s birth in mid-July, our family has been crazy busy. Tim and I only went to one game in July. But we had big plans for August.
It all started on August 8, 2010, when Tim and I hopped in our trusty Prius and headed down to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.
We had one major goal for the day: get Tim’s picture with former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia. I loved Freddy as a Mariner, and I thought it would be great to meet him. And what better place than at Camden Yards? I don’t know if there is another stadium where the players are as accessible as they are in Baltimore.
One problem, we didn’t have “season tickets” that would allow us to get into the main part of the stadium half an hour early. And our man with the season tickets hook-up, Camden Yards regular Avi Miller, was home ill.
So, we hung out in the shady seats in RCF for the first half hour…
…it really didn’t matter too much though. There was no batting practice and almost no one was on the field. One Oriole was running in deep RF, and he gave Tim a wave a said “hi” as he ran by at one point. A little later, a couple White Sox came out to play catch in shallow LF. I used my camera to zoom in on them, and Freddy was not among them.
When the stadium finally opened, we headed over to the 3B line to watch the remaining White Sox play catch. I did not recognize any of them…
Eventually, Mr. 68 headed back toward the dugout. He tossed a baseball to a kid in a White Sox shirt and another to a kid in a Mariners hat…
There was NOTHING happening on the field.
We headed over to LF for no apparent reason. While over there, we ended up getting a special picture — with Babe Ruth — for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Then we got a picture of the two of us in the cross-aisle…
We hung out over there for a while, but then I had an idea. There is something special that the O’s do before pretty much every game. The O’s Bird heads out to LF and plays a little whiffleball with kids he pulls out of the crowd. He does all sorts of funny stuff, like throwing a base when the kids are running the bases.
Its been my goal all season to get Tim involved, but it hasn’t happened. In the car ride on the way down, I asked Tim if he’d like to try to play whiffle ball with the Bird. I had to prep him for the possiblity because he takes his base running seriously. I feared that he would get upset if he didn’t understand that the Bird likes to do things such as throw the bases while a kid is running the bases. It was good that I prepped him, because he didn’t understand why the Bird would do that. I told him it was just to be funny and play a joke on the kids. Tim liked that and he was excited to try to get in on the whiffleball.
When I remembered it, I asked Tim if he still wanted to try to play whiffleball with the Bird. He did. So I suggested we head back into the stadium. Right when we made it down the LF line, I saw two O’s employees walking out with an equipment bag. I flagged them down and asked if Tim could get in on the whiffle ball action. The answer was “YES!” Sweet.
When the Bird arrived, the guy I’d asked came over and pulled Tim out of the stands…
Essentially, each kid just takes one hit and then rounds the bases. Tim was ready for the next pitch…
As Tim rounded first, the Bird ran to second base…
[TIME OUT: I have to mention that the last picture is one of my favorites. As Tim is rounding first, you can see Juan Pierre and Alex Rios walking in shallow CF, Carlos Quentin is at the far right walking toward the foul line, and a couple Orioles are playing catch in deep CF. How cool is that? The next kid actually hit the ball to “RF” and Alex Rios fielded it and gunned it back to the Bird.]
…Instead, the Bird just stood there as Tim approached to touch second. Then, the Bird grabbed the base and used it like a matador’s red cape…
Tim immediately bolted for third. He thrives on eluding would-be taggers. The Bird chased behind Tim trying to tag him…
Tim scored! And then he kept running straight back to me. He was only out there for a minute or two, but he had a blast and absolutely loved it. He wants to do it again!
After whiffleball, a former Mariners great (but not Freddy Garcia) was signing autographs down the foul line. I had totally forgot that slick fielding former M’s short stop Omar Vizquel plays for the White Sox this season. But, guess what? He does.
And here he is signing the baseball that Erick Threets had given to Tim earlier in the day:
Now here is something interesting (at least to me). We’re not big autograph guys (we’re picture guys). In fact, before reading it on other MLBlogs, I had never even heard the term “the sweet spot.” But, over the past two seasons, Tim and I have collected about 10-15 autographs on baseballs that we’ve caught at games, and Omar is the first and only player to ever sign his name on the sweet spot. Every single other player has signed his name on…whatever they call the non-sweet spot.
As I said, autographs are good, but we’re picture guys. So this was the real prize:
For the record, that is Tim and a future Hall of Famer. I know his offensive numbers aren’t all that special (actually, his hit total is pretty special), but I would put Omar Vizquel up against any short stop in the history of baseball. The guy is absolutely incredible with the glove. I seriously do not think there has been a better short stop in the game, at least during my life time. And guess what? Omar’s offensive numbers are as good or better than Ozzie Smith’s numbers. So for my money, the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Bottom line: when we weren’t able to get a picture with Freddy, this picture with Omar more than made up for the disappointment.
A few minutes later, we watched Omar show off some of his fancy glove work…
…along the foul line. Omar can catch a baseball by letting it just tap the heel of his glove to deaden the throw before his bare hand swipes the ball out of the air. Its truly amazing, and incredibly hard to do. I’ve only been able to do it a couple times in my life. I should have taken a video of it because Little O was doing it here and trying to teach his teammate (not Ramirez, but the guy out in CF) how to do it. If you ever want to learn a thing or two about catching a baseball, you should seriously consider just taking a seat and watching Omar during pre-game warm ups.
By the time the game started, we’d already had a full day’s worth of fun.
It seems like we are always on the RF/1B side of the stadium at Camden Yards. I wanted to switch it up. We started off the game in the handicapped accessible seats in the cross-aisle behind section 62. We were standing in the cross-aisle and I asked the usher which way was north so I could figure out which direct the sun would be moving. I told him we wanted to avoid the sun. He suggested we sit in the handicapped accessible seats behind the section he was working, which were shaded at the time.
Here was the view:
Tim pointed out the pitchers mound for me…
Then, Tim took over the controls of the camera. Here are some samples of the shots he took:
In the top of the first, Guthrie gave up a single to Alex Rios and a double to Paul Konerko, but escaped without giving up any runs. Buehrle sat the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.
The first scoring of the day occurred in the bottom of the second inning. O’s left fielder Felix Pie drove a solo homerun deep into the flag court yard in RF.
Two batters later, Cesar Izturis…
As the all-time greats go, 1,000 hits is nothing. But when you think about it, to be able to collect 1,000 hits in major league baseball is pretty special. So congratulations to Cesar.
In the bottom of the third, I was all set to try to get an action shot of Omar Vizquel adding another hit to his impressive resume (as of today he has 2,778 hits). Unfortunately, I had to settle for this picture…
…of Omar about to hit a foul ball. Omar did actually get a hit in this at bat and I did get a picture of the swing, but Tim walked in front of the camera. It would be the only picture Tim blocked on the day, and it would be Omar’s only hit. Oh, well.
A couple innings later, we found ourselves sitting in LF where this was our view:
However, we did see Omar hit again (in the top of the 5th inning) while we were in LF:
The score did not stay tied long. And we didn’t stay long in LF. Tim wanted to move back into the shade. So we went and grabbed an Orioles Ice Cream Helmet and relocated to another set of handicapped accessible seats, this time in the cross-aisle behind section 47.
Here was our view:
All of the Birdland faithful were hoping that Adam “Not Pacman” Jones could make it back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, but, alas, he could not. With this not mighty enough swing…
By the way, Tim really latched onto Quentin during this game. During pre-game warmups we were discussing the players we were watching and I pointed out Quentin. Tim started talking about “Carlos” like they were old buddies. Each time Quentin came to the plate, Tim would mention, “Hey, its Carlos.” And after this catch, we discussed how Tim’s good friend “Carlos” caught that high pop fly.
Fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie was still in the game and he was “dealing”…
After Little O bunted this Guthrie offering foul…
Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning, Cesar Izturis started in on his second thousand hits by driving a 2B to deep LCF for his 1,001st hit. After advancing to 3B on a passed ball, Izturis scored the O’s fourth and final run of the day on a single by Brian Roberts.
Guthrie was back on the hill in the 8th inning, and he mowed down the ChiSox 1-2-3, including this harmless ground out by Paul Konerko…
While scouting out seats from the cross-aisle slightly shaded toward 1B, someone (can’t remember who) hit a foul ball DIRECTLY to the handicapped accessible seat that I had been sitting in for the last several innings. All I would have had to do was stand up and make the uncontested catch. Bummer.
Anyway, this was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:
…and then a homerun to Ramon Castro. That made the score 4-3 Orioles. But that was all she wrote. Simon would get the next two batters (Brad Lillibridge and Juan Pierre) to secure the win for Guthrie and the save for himself.
Something else interesting happened during the ninth inning, the ushers on both sides of the umpire tunnel were actively assisting kids in trying to get an umpire ball. One usher stopped by and told Tim and a girl sitting behind us “The umpire’s name is Phil, you should ask him for a baseball when he leaves the field” while another usher on the other side of the tunnel brought three little kids down to the second row and sat them right on the tunnel with instructions to ask Cuzzi for a baseball.
Cuzzi came off the field after the final out and handed one baseball to one of the kids the usher had sat on the 3B side of the umpires tunnel. Then he approached Tim and placed a second baseball in his glove…
Thanks, Mr. Cuzzi!
Hey, guess what? It was time for Kids Run the Bases!
The O’s held the promotion exclusively for members of the O’s Dugout Club. We visited the extremely helpful and nice O’s fan assistance office to inquire about how Tim could become a member so he could run the bases. It costs $12 and comes with all sorts of goodies. But the lady in the fan assistance office (probably rightfully thinking we were in from out of town and were not O’s fans) suggested that we could probably run without Tim becoming a member of the club. So, we saved our $12 and did not join the club.
I was a little nervous because almost every kid in line was wearing some evidence of being a member of the club, everyone but Tim. But it didn’t matter. They made no effort to check to see if people were members of the club.
When we reentered the stadium to run the bases, the usher who is usually out on Eutaw Street spraying fans and giving out baseball cards was spraying people with his water bottle in the concourse. But he wasn’t handing out any baseball cards…that is, he wasn’t until we arrived.
As Tim approached to get sprayed, I said to him, “You gotta say “‘Hit me!'” Immediately upon saying that to Tim, the usher (whose name, I think, is Greg??), proclaimed, “He said the MAGIC WORDS!”…
It was time to run some bases. As Tim waited in the line at first base (the O’s were making the effort to space out the runners, which we always appreciate), I got a shot of the visitors dugout:
I got this shot of Tim stomping on second base:
Third base also cooperated with my camera:
Before heading up into the stands, we posed for a few pictures on the field, including this one…
…with the baseball from Phil Cuzzi.
- Whiffle ball in the outfield with The Bird;
- An autograph from and picture with former Mariner and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel;
- Kids Run The Bases; and
- Father-Son fun.
Wow – It was an excellent day! Not only that, it was a truly excellent weekend of baseball fun (this was the Sunday immediately following our campout in the Reading Phillies’ outfield).
Fun, fun, fun.
Thank you, Baseball. We missed you!
2010 Fan Stats:
17 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics and White Sox; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
40 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox)
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)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’m lagging behind with my game entries. So, a little untimely, I present the grand finale of The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.
This was a big game for us. Royals vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago. With this game, we could check the Royals off of Tim’s list and, at age three-and-a-half he would have officially seen all 30 MLB teams play live. I was pretty excited about the accomplishment and I had a little something special planned. Ever since watching Curious George receive a frozen ice cream “trophy” from Chef Pischetti, Tim has loved trophies. And he’s asked me a bunch if he would ever be able to win a trophy somehow. So as a surprise, I had a special trophy made for the occassion. More on that in a bit.
We started out the day at our hotel by O’Hare airport. It was nice not to have any long distance driving this day. We decided to spend the day playing around at the hotel. A little swimming in the pool followed by a little baseball in a patch of grass outside. Here is a shot of Tim’s pitching motion:
He headed to the game early to catch some BP. The line to get into the parking lot was slow moving, so Tim and I hopped out of the car and played some catch in the parking lot while my dad parked the car:
We headed into the park and the Royals were already hitting. We missed the White Sox completely. That was fine. My goal revolved solely around the Royals. Because they were the 30th and final team for Tim, I had a goal of trying to get a picture of Tim with a Royal player and his Trophy. More specifically, I wanted to get his picture with one of the three former Mariners now playing for the Royals — Gill Meche, Willie Bloomquist or Yuniesky Betancourt. My ultimate goal was Gill Meche because he pitched (and won) Tim’s first game back on September 12, 2006.
My dad went off to explore the park a bit and Tim and I went down to the field behind 1B. I scanned the field for Meche, Willie or Yuni. Within a couple minutes, Willie ran out onto the field from the Royals dugout and started taking ground balls at 2B — his new primary position now that Yuni has joined the Royals.
We were probably 125 feet from Willie. Any time Willie looked remotely in our direction, I shouted his name. My thought was to simply get his attention and motion for him to come over to the stands. My hope was that he would come over after taking grounders. He looked in our direction a couple times, but there were no signs of him being inclined to come over. BTW, I figured he probably thought I wanted to get his autograph.
Eventually, a batter hit a weak grounder that rolled to a stop in the grass about 20 feet into the OF grass between 1B and 2B. After Willie fielded a fungoed grounder deep in the hole between 1B-2B, he ran over to the ball sitting in the grass, picked it up and fired it directly to us.
Here was our view (with the arrow marking the flight of the ball thrown to us):
We certainly appreciated the ball from Willie. But it wasn’t what we were looking for. Unfortunately, Willie figured (whatever we wanted) the ball should suffice. After he finished taking grounders, he ran back into the Royals clubhouse.
I then spotted Gill Meche in the OF, but there was no possible way to get anywhere near him. I never saw Yuni on the field. Alas, my goal of getting Tim’s picture with a Royal and his trophy failed.
But don’t worry, we survived the minor dissappointment.
After checking out the scene behind the Royals dugout and chatting with a stadium attendant, we turned our gaze to CF where we noticed this:
The Man In Yellow — our MLBlogs friend and Milwaukee home run catcher extraordinaire, Nick Yohanek a/k/a the Happy Youngster.
I asked Tim if he wanted to go say “Hi” to Nick and we enthusiastically answered in the affirmative. So we headed out there. On the way, we witnessed Nick catch a homerun ball.
When we got out there, my dad was standing near by. We said hi to Nick and introduced him to my dad, whom he had not met the day before in Milwaukee. Nick then introduced us to a MLBlogger named Ben a/k/a Jerseyboy. I didn’t realize at the time, but I knew about Ben. He has a ridiculously huge collection of authentic MLB jerseys. Something like 1,500 of them. I was actually the first person to ever comment on Ben’s blog back a couple months ago, when I suggested he add a vintage Spike Owen Mariners jersey to his collection.
As we chatted, BP ended and then it started sprinkling. We took refuge in the concourse where we continued chatting, I realized Ben was the guy with the jerseys, we sampled the U.S. Cellular Churos, and I took this panaramic:
After a few minutes chatting in the concourse, the PA announcer told us the start of the game was being delayed for about 40 minutes. My dad decided to go somewhere or other — probably the team store to buy a U.S. Cellular ball. Tim, Ben and I decided to tour the upper deck so I could take some panaramic views.
On the way, I took this picture of the upper deck concourse, which due to the interesting lighting I thought looked pretty cool:
From the LF corner of the upper deck:
On our walk from LF to RF, we stopped so I could buy some nachos and drinks (complete with League Policy violating caps). We sat in the upper deck and chatted while Tim destroyed our nachos:
That’s Ben in the Royals’ jersey. On the right, as we chat and Tim scarfs nachos. On the left, chatting with my dad in RCF following the conclusion of BP.
Ben and I realized we share a common practice. We both help ourselves to copious amounts of pocket schedules at each stadium we visit. While walking the upper deck, we both filled our pockets with White Sox pocket schedules. (Following the season, I think I’ll put together an entry showing the schedules I have collected this season).
Soon, the grounds keepers prepared the field and it was time for baseball. We headed back down to the field level and parted ways. Ben hooked up with Nick, and Tim and I joined my dad in our seats down the 3B line (not far from the foul pole). Mondays are half price ticket days at The Cell, so we got a good deal on some good seats.
Here was the view of Mark Buerhle from our seats:
The lead off batter for the Royals was none other than “Willie Ballgame”:
Pictured above to the right is Willie’s first at bat in the first. To the left, Willie took over at short stop a couple innings into the game after Yuni Betancourt was drilled by a foul ball in the Royals dugout. Between Big Willie and Big Willie is a picture of the ball Big Willie threw to us during BP.
Early in the game (maybe even the first inning, not sure now), Tim wanted to play catch. We headed out to the RF concourse as Yuni came to bat and fouled a ball off the plate:
A few moments later, Tim and I were playing catch when Yuni yanked a bomb into the White Sox bullpen in LF. Tim and I went over to check out the situation. We could see the HR ball sitting in the bullpen. So Tim hopped onto my shoulders and we walked down to the first row between innings to gaze upon the ball — and to be in position in case someone in the bullpen decided to toss it into the crowd.
As the bottom of the inning was about to start, we headed back up the stairs to resume our game of catch. That’s when a *first* happened, I heard a voice:
Alex – “Are you Todd?”
Todd – (turning to see young Alex K) “Yes.’
Alex – (To Tim) “And you must be Tim. Hi, Tim. (To me) Hi, I’m Alex. I read your blog and knew you’d be at this game.”
Although I had previously recognized and introduced myself to several MLBloggers at games (specifically, Zack Hample and Nick), this was the first time anyone had ever recognized me and Tim from our blog. I gotta say, it was somewhat funny and cool. I like that MLBlogs has created a community of people who end up running into each other while out at the ball park. And this game had a lot of them.
Anyway, I quickly realized that I had seen Alex before. In fact, I recognized Alex from an article I’d read recently on MyGameBalls.com — click here. Alex is a young Hample-in-Training and is already quite adept at obtaining baseballs at MLB games. You can read about his adventures (including his baseball road trip that crossed paths on this night with our baseball road trip) on his MLBlog — RiverAvenue. (By the way, up above in the picture of Nick in CF, Alex is standing a few feet behind Nick wearing his Royal blues — shortly after that, he would catch a homerun ball that is documented with excellent photos on his blog).
Alex and I began to chat a bit. A few seconds later, Nick showed up. Alex and Nick needed to get to work on their efforts at retrieving the Betancourt home run. But first, we needed to get a picture together:
(make that a picture with poor lighting).
Tim and I went back to playing catch. This is where we played (with the arrow pointing to where Tim stood and the photo taken from where I stood):
After a few minutes, we headed back over to see how Alex and Happy were making out. Right then, some White Sox batter blasted a home run into the same bullpen. Tim and I ran down the stairs in the off chance it would bounce up to us. But it didn’t make the seats. Then a White Sox bullpen coach ran out and grabbed the new home run ball and threw it over Happy and Alex and into the very seats they’d just been occupying in about row seven. The coach then gestured toward Betancourt’s home run ball with a foul look on his face. He looked up at the crowd and plugged his nose like Betancourt’s home run ball stunk. He then scampered back into the bullpen seating area. It was a funny scene.
Alex then accompanied me and Tim to the ice cream stand where Tim and I got our White Sox ice cream helmets. We then said our good-byes and Tim and I rejoined my dad in the seats for some ice cream and more baseball:
…I’d tell you who these pictures are of, but I’m not sure. They’re Royals, but not former Mariners. So its hard to say. By the way, did you notice those three characters sitting in the second row behind the Royals’ dugout? One of them caught a foul ball sitting there. I’ll let you track down their game entries to figure out which one of them got the foul ball.
Tim got all jacked up on his ice cream and started having a blast in the seats:
After a bit, Tim and I decided to go check out the OF concourse some more. We found a bunch of cool “trophies” out there:
A portion of the batters eye has a cut out where the the camera men are set up. I stuck my camera through the cut out and took this panaramic:
The White Sox were staked to a modest lead. Bobby Jenks was warming up in the Chisox bullpen. I realized the game was about to end and we’d never visited RF. So, we took a last picture of Tim along the front row railing by our seats…
…and a shot of Jenks as he ran out to the mound…
…and then we took off for RF so I could take this panaramic…
…we continued circling the concourse and ended up in the exact same spot where I’d taken the first rain delay panaramic while chatting with Ben, and we got there just in time to see Jenks finish off the Royals for the White Sox win:
It was time to head down to the Royals dugout for a little trophy presentation — Tim loved it:
In case you cannot tell, the trophy says:
Timothy J. Cook
30 MLB Teams
Sept. 12, 2006 – Aug. 17, 2009
I love the picture in the upper left. He is trying to make a 3-0 with his fingers to represent seeing 30 MLB teams…but he was having a little trouble with it. He had to concentrate real hard.
So there you have it, our second annual baseball road trip. It was, in a word, excellent. With the exception of not getting a picture with a Royals player, the trip met all of my expectations and goals. The most important of which is further detailed in an entry I posted immediately upon our return to the hotel after this game — Milestone Achieved.
I am now officially looking forward to The (Third Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.
Season Fan Stats:
25 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
11 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, and U.S. Cellular)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
22 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
3 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)