On June 2, 2008, the stars appeared to be aligning themselves for something wonderful. I’d been watching with anticipation the past month. I saw the possibility. But could it really happen?
Then the day arrived.
Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Cinncinati Reds arrived in Philadelphia. It would be Tim’s first opportunity in his life to see my all-time favorite player. And if Griffey could connect for a homerun, it would be his historic 600th blast. It all seemed too good to be true!
Sadly, it was.
I questioned whether the Reds would sit Griff so he could hit number 600 in Cinncinati. But the Reds had 7 more games before returning to Cinncinati. There was no way he would sit 7 games.
At this point, Tim was not quite 2-and-a-half years old. He really wasn’t good for BP and a full game yet. That was just too much. But, we headed down to Philadelphia early for this one. I wanted to maximize our time in Griff’s presence. But when the Reds took the field for BP, Griff was nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t promising for our chances of seeing number 600.
In fact, it ended up that Griff’s knee was acting up. He was not in the line-up.
Anyway, as I said, Tim wasn’t really a BP guy yet. So we did a little touring around the ballpark before the game…
He pushed his stroller all the way up the winding ramps up to the upper deck in the RF foul corner. I took this shot as we turned the final bend in the ramps. That’s Lincoln Financial Field in the background.
I think this was Tim’ first time ever being in an upper deck of a ballpark. He was a little *iffy* about it. I’m not sure if it was because he was uncomfortable being up so high or if it was because the sun was blazing down in our eyes.
We got some french fries and found a nice spot behind Section 106 at one of the many standing counters ringing the field level at Citizens Bank Park…
Seeing Griff play and getting a chance to witness No. 600 was the entire reason we attended this week-night game. With our hopes and dreams for the night spoiled (he would not even pinch hit), we needed to make the night special in some other way.
So, sitting behind Section 137 at Citizens Bank Park, we started a grand tradition…
…we shared Tim’s first ever ice cream helmet!!!
Do you notice there is an extra spoon in the helmet? This being Tim’s first ice cream helmet, he had not yet realized they were too good to share with his dear old dad.
I’d been watching the Reds pretty regularly for 8 seasons by this point (solely to watch Griff), so I was pretty familiar with their team. While standing down the LF foul line in Section 137, it was a straight shot out to Adam Dunn.
In Griffey’s world, Dunn was to the Reds what Buhner was to the Mariners: Griff’s friend and big Texan power hitting neighbor in the outfield.
That last picture was taken in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils were already getting business started. After Shane Victorino singled with one out, Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a 2-run homerun.
For about an inning and a half, it was as if there was no game being played at all.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed over to the home plate area, a little off toward first base, so we could get a peak into the Reds dugout…
Tim loves the kids playset at Citizens Bank Park. In the 18 MLB ballparks Tim and I have visited, I’m pretty sure that it is objectively the best play area…
By the way, for perspective for anyone who hasn’t visited Citizens Bank Park, those steel beams above Tim in that picture are supporting the winding walk way up to the upper deck where Tim was pictured above with Lincoln Financial Field in the background. The play area is just to the outfield side of the main 1B side entrance to Citizen Bank Park.
Back to the game, in the top of the 4th inning, as Tim played in the play area, I watched on the Dads’ flatscreen TV as rookie Jay Bruce (the man who was playing RF in Griffey’s place) hit his third career homerun in this third career game.
We headed back out to the field level for the bottom of the 4th in time to see Pedro Feliz (2-run) and Chris Coste (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns off of Bronson Arroyo…
…Tim cheered on as he ate cotton candy (it was a high calorie night for Cook & Son), as the Phillies took a 5-1 lead.
Late in the game, Tim wanted to play around in the field level concourse. I snapped this picture of him hiding in a steel beam…
…he always enjoys standing in these things at Citizens Bank Park. He enjoys the little things in life.
We also ran into three nice ushers out in the concourse who each gave Tim a little souvenir: a Philly Phanatic figurine, a little wood baseball bat keychain, and a Cole Hamels baseball card that was magically pulled from behind Tim’s ear.
Between a solo shot by Juan “Fireworks” Encarnacion in the fifth and a 2-run double by Dunn in the sixth, the Reds would score three more runs on the night, but Coste’s homerun would be enough for the Phillies. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge nailed down the save 1-2-3 with two strike outs. On June 2nd, Lidge’s ERA was still only 0.75.
Over the next two days, without Tim, I’d make two more efforts at witnessing Griff’s 600th homerun. But he rode the bench both days. His knee was still bothering him. He pinch hit late in each game and walked twice on a combined 9 pitches. I only saw him swing the bat once between the two games. Both at-bats were incredibly intense. The whole stadium was on its feet. Philadelphia fans can be rude and crude and mean. But I was extremely proud of them at these games. They understood they had the chance to see history and I think a lot of them wanted it to happen despite the fact it would have been terrible for the Phillies in both games. At the end of the final game of the series (the only game I didn’t attend and the only one Griffey played), the entire stadium gave Griffey a standing ovation.
Sadly, he went on to hit his 600th homerun in South Florida before a pathetic and heartless crowd. It should have happened before one of those great sell-out crowds in Philadelphia, but at least his wife and kids were able to be there for the historic blast in Florida.
I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work. Soon, my plans would change.
I received a call in the morning. One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office. Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:
Tim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club. Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites. The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way. You can see that here.
The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating. The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all. Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.
For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole. But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…
…the wall is pretty cool. However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls. They were never used. I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.
I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…
Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool. But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used. I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc. Still, its a cool bar.
So, we made our way into the suite. The Phils were hosting the Giants. The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.
As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food. After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course. Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:
This may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night. He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.
He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…
One note about that picture. You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire. I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game. There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any). But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.
Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed. We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite. As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.
As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender. (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender). He was a nice guy. He was a school teacher at a high school in the city. His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings. He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium. Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite. He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team. Nice.
So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…
…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.
Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim. But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.
Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area. When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…
…in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level. He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite. Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.
Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game. Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied. Eventually, we headed into extra innings. Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.
Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero. That was it for us. With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.
As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs. When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.! M.V.P.! M.V.P.!” Chase Utley was up. Soon the crowd erupted. I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out. Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.
Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy. He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.
Ah, good times.
Remember Tim’s First MLB Anniversary game on September 12, 2007, we went with our friends Tim and Gabe? Well, on April 11, 2008, Tim and I met up with Tim and Gabe once again and headed down to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phillies take on the Chicago Cubs.
The boys were having a blast before we even reached the stadium:
The seats were awesome. Here was the view…
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the first inning.
We did lots of eating all night. First, Tim started off with some hard pretzels we brought from home…
Next, Tim moved on to some candy that Gabe had brought…
Then, the funniest part of the night…
While Tim was making friends with the french fry girl, I made friends with the guy sitting next to me. I had to chat with him and get him to let me try on his glove…
…once I noticed he was sporting a near mint condition Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove. The very same glove that I had from elementary school through high school. It is the last non-Rawlings glove I’ve ever owned. After I replaced it with a wonderful little black Rawlings, I surgically altered that Spalding glove. I made it into a Trap-Eze (although it didn’t turn out nearly as good as my Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B-turned-Trap-Eze. Unfortunately, I don’t have that mock-Trap-Eze anymore.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Phils were still losing 2-0 when Pat Burrell came to bat. I looked over at Tim and proclaimed, “Tim, its Pat Burrell. Maybe he’ll hit a homerun. He always hits a homerun for you.” Next pitch, two-run game tying homerun. A guy behind us leans forward, “You should bring him to games more often!”
Pat “The Bat” would go 2-4 on the night with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Wait, there were more snacks…
It was still 2-2 when hard hitting pitcher Carlos Zambrano…
The Cubs tied it up again in the top of the sixth with a solo homerun by Alfonso Soriano. The Phils took the lead again (for good) in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Pat Burrell and a single by Carlos Ruiz. In fact, that would cap the scoring for the evening.
There was one other fun on-field event that I can’t remember when in the game it happened. As a huge Mariners fan, I love Sweet Lou Piniella. I was hoping that Lou would go crazy and get tossed out of this game so Tim could see the Master at work. It almost happened. Lou stormed the field at some point during the game, but, alas, cooler heads prevailed and he returned to the dugout before getting tossed. Still, it was great to see Lou doing his thing.
At this point in his life, it was difficult for Tim to stay seated for an entire game. (Well, actually, it still is today). At almost 2.5 years of age, Tim was much better at staying in the seats when accompanied by another kid. But still, he got antsy late in this game. So we took to the concourse for some exploring:
But he was really starting to get tired so the four of us headed out a little bit early. So, we missed Brad Lidge nailing down his second save of the season — back when Brad Lidge was unstoppable.
On the way out of the ballpark, Big Tim suggested that we stop by the LF foul corner and pick up some “Schmitters.” At this point in my life, I had never even heard of The Schmitter…
1 servings Kaiser Roll
1 servings Lean Sirloin Tip Beef Steaks
1 servings Genoa Salami
1/2 serving 1000 Island (2 Tbsp)
1 servings Fried Onions
2 servings American Cheese
1 servings Sliced Tomato
brown sandwich steaks and salami. Layer in kaiser roll, cheese, steak,dressing, fried onions, salami, tomato, then more cheese.
Ah, the Schmitter hit the spot.
By the way, Gabe took that picture of Tim and his Schmitter. Moments later, the boys were out…
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.
All of the Cooks were in attendance:
Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier. It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.
Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:
We sat in Section 235, Row 9:
This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park. I really liked these seats. Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us. Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.
Speaking of views, here was our view:
Check out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during pennant race! At this point, the Phils were still six games back. Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.
In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty. Not even close. The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.
Anyway, back to the game. I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…
Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball. It was great, Tim was having a blast…
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis. Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run. Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run. Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.
With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…
And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…
…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up. One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs. That would certainly be memorable.
The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day. But it didn’t matter. He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.
Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…
…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.
Yep. It was a good day.
By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left? I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game. I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion. I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect. (Side note: the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave).
Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.
So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around. Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.
Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners. Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets. Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania. Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home. But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999. So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.
I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game. So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:
I lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there. Tim loved running around the Park for a short while. And then we were off to South Philadelphia.
We attended this game with a group of people from my office. Tim was a lucky little guy. His second game was also his second game in a suite! We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:
Here is a look at the suite:
To the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite. To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc. And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.
In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling? The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite. The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic. He thought it was really cool.
Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite. When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite. In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.
Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):
Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues. But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite. The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse). Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.
Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF. I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:
To the left is a view of the suite level concourse. This picture is just foul of third base. The suites and the field are to our right. The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).
Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left. Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon. Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend. Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.
Back to the game. We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:
In 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park. If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.
After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):
As you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet). But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.
Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) “first”…
And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…
The game didn’t go so well for the Phils. They lost 8-3. The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.
Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score. Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored. Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4. But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.
Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad. Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.
I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season. Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status. Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails. I hope you enjoy.
This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field. The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.
So, here is the background I promised:
[AUGUST 15, 2008]
So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
He wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
went to bed.
This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
Here are some pictures.
Next update tonight following the game.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
“Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball. This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I’m not sure why. I’m now aware Ben Sheets was the starter…I’m not sure why.]
We then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.
Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
the ball park.
After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
one of the best i’ve seen.
Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
Cincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
was a sign “To 75” just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
Tim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
(about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
of the factory.
The museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
compare it to the guy standing behind it.
There was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
They also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.
Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
We capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
Oh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
BBQ’ing by dad.
Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
[AUGUST 17, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
Cleveland by about 11:30.
The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
seats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
the Indians won, it was alright with me.
Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
shoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
neck supporting him while he napped.
During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
sign beneath the field).
Because Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
After the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
mapquest directions to our next KOA.
We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
Presidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
[AUGUST 18, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
another great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.
Next, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
all the nachos!
After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
camera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
After the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
See pictures attached.
[AUGUST 19, 2008]
Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
The Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
and he sealed the deal.
I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
through a big yellow foul pole.
After a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
crowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
longer wanted to go home.
It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
pictures from tonight.
Thanks for staying tuned,
And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008. I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory. We built the rest of the trip around that. By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.
Let the Second Installment begin!