Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…
…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.
Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:
We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:
Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.
Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…
… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.
The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…
…and running around between the growing lines of fans:
Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:
And Kellan declared it to be banana time:
He destroyed that banana!
Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:
Thanks, Mets guy!
We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.
We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:
At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:
As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.
Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.
We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.
Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:
First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.
Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.
Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.
Thanks, again, Ervin!
Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):
We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…
…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.
On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:
Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:
And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…
…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”
Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:
We headed to Shea Bridge…
…where it looked a lot like this:
The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…
…struck out swinging.
We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:
Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:
For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:
Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….
…and section 531:
It was windy and freezing up there!
Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!
If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:
Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:
It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…
That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:
Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:
When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.
So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.
I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:
Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.
Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.
(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).
For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:
Check out these silly guys:
The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…
…hit a sacrifice fly.
Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.
After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:
After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.
We had a great day packed with fun and…
…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.
|2014 Fan Stats|
|5||Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)|
|3||Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)|
|27||Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff|
|5||Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)|
|1||Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)|
On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:
We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…
…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.
When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…
…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.
Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…
…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.
My boys love riding the subway:
My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…
…from the 7 Train.
You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:
We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…
…, Tim was showing off his muscles.
Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…
…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.
It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:
This was our view in LCF:
Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.
Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.
I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:
IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…
Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:
Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.
We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:
Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.
As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:
First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).
Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.
Double thanks, Usher!
By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.
My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:
From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…
…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.
The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…
…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.
On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):
And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:
Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.
We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:
It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.
If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:
You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!
In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:
Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.
Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:
Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.
You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:
There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.
We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.
Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:
Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:
Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.
As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.
The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.
With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:
In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.
Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.
In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:
The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.
Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.
We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”
Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”
Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:
They’ve both grown a lot!
After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:
On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:
We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…
…, the local 7 Train, that is.
It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:
And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.
So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!
2013 C&S Fan Stats
16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.
20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.
50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.
16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson.
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo.
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
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.