On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park. And it was a special one because we weren’t alone. We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.
Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons. So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.
Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia. There was an interesting parade going on…
…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.
We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…
…before the gates opened. After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…
…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan. And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF. That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.
As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day. I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.
Things started off normal enough. We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened. Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan. Kellan was wearing his glove. When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it. “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.” And that’s just what happened:
Things were quite in LF. Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened. But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.
Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:
Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.” In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track. A great catch by Tim!
Thanks, Rod and Antonio!
There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.
Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen. I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield. Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield. Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:
Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench. He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!
Thanks and thanks, Eddie!
So, there you go. The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs. We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.
While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate. In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games. So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.
And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened. Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…
…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance. We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge. Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.” And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims: Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson. Bot had eluded us. But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim! How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim. As the green “7” above suggests, it worked!
We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.
But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate. Oh, no!
There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.
So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!
But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…
…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.” Tim replied, “No! Not this one!” He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.
“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”
But how many more opportunities would we even have!?
Well, luckily, we had at least two more:
Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me. And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us. Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?” And Maholm obliged.
Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!
So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.
And the day wasn’t over yet. In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!
Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…
…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.
Okay. Things were officially ridiculous at this point. So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits. We headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…
…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…
…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:
So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start. We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission. When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes. The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet. We wanted it bad.
So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…
…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.
At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:
I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench. He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was. I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.
As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?
He tossed Tim a baseball.
Thanks, Jesus! You were truly awesome to us this season!
While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.
And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:
It took right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!
Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived. After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:
And then it was game time. We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:
(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).
Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:
We were in the first row of section 427. I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game. (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).
We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed. The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.
Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp. He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game. Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF. Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward. Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF. This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.
Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:
That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.
I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures. Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:
In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line. Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.
The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.
The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second. Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann. After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado. That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.
And Heyward to this loaded up…
…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…
…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play. Heyward ended up at second. Hey wouldn’t stay there long.
Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:
Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…
…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).
After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.
We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:
We also did some birding. Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:
(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird. Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).
Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:
This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies. Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:
(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)
At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI. Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit. But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.
By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.
After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves. And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …
…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…
…circle around home plate…
…, and pose with a pig…
…on our way to the kids’ play area:
Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:
I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed. It was pandemonium in there! And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:
Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing. That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.
We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.
Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…
…up the ramps to the upper deck. We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:
Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:
If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States. The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years. Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.
We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:
Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:
In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single. Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…
…at bat that we will ever witness. It looked like this:
It ended with fielder’s choice to SS. And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:
In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy. He needed to take a walk. On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:
With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd. Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…
…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:
Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:
I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…
…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:
After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball. Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.
When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:
Here’s what happened. We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130. There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club). As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row. I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight. I figured he must have stayed with Colleen. As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name: “Jerry!” He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.
Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below. He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us. He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion. And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).
Double thanks, Jerry Meals!
By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate. If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14). Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.
After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration. Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing. As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row. They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left. I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them. But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path. It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.
Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove. It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture. He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper. It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way. It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us. All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene. The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field. I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again. But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.
We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:
Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:
Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.
From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark. Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6|
|24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris. I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.
Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris. Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines. I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.
We started out panning for go:
We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand. But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever! GOLD!!!
Panning was fun. But the real deal was the gold mine tour. If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.
We went down, down, down…
…into huge rock-walled caverns.
This was like old-timey movies. Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:
Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge. This mine has tons of cool stories. It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years. It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls. There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.
But the drills were nothing. The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling. In the picture below to the right…
…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.
After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike. The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.
In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and Braves. On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…
…and Warren Spahn.
Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen. The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line. We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:
This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen. The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench. A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen. It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof. It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench. It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us. I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.
The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim: “Gotta give it to the kid!”
Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):
Thanks, bullpen guy!
The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour. But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there. We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”
I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open. We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF. But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.” Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.
We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section. Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen. Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family. After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball. He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make up his mind what he was going to do next. I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie. Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim. I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.
Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one. Wait, later!” He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that. But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…
…above his head.
Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:
I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson. So we decided to head around toward foul territory.
As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:
We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.
I took this panorama from section 117…
…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.
Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout. Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there. Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.
Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball). The usher was a big fan of my shirt. In fact, he was a U-Dub alum. So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF. He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.
As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout. Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field. We found a nice front row spot right behind him:
When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF. Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…
…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing. It was a baseball! It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first. How odd. But we’ll take it!
On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:
Centerfield was rather uneventful. Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again. He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave. But that was it. He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.
Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful. Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball. Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me. It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence. It was right to me. I mean RIGHT to me. But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap. I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.
Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim. Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it. Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face. It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it. The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him. That was cool though. The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend. It was all for the best. While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.
A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim. It was very nice of him. But we don’t count balls from fans. I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us. So, when we visited the CN kids play area…
…I kept my eyes open.
While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad. He was wearing a cool little glove. I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP. And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him. Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was). The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it. It was win-win!
I have no clue what you call this thing:
But Tim loved it. It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls. The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.
Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:
Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this panorama:
We then got some nachos…
…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:
Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye. One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:
Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots. Both teams scored one run in the first inning. The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval. And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…
…and RBI walk.
The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross. The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.
It was time for ice cream. Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets. On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…
…and above the Braves bullpen:
We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats: if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet. He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them. They had a nice selection of flavors. Tim picked chocolate mint…
…and he loved them.
As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre. A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…
…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up. Soon enough, another girl joined them. I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…
…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools. My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.
Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.
The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…
…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground. The guy then grabbed the custom and left. It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.
Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:
I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face. The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.
It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet. It’s a terrible, terrible story all around. It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”
Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed. The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field. So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.
Back to the game.
The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings. Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:
All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!
In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:
I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.
Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:
Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk. They then returned requesting a penny. Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines. My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it! They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny. Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:
When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own. After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:
And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:
Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us. We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot! So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.
The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son. And the son delivered a nice shot:
The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game. Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop. And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating. So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from? Canned drum beating, you ask? Nah. The Braves wouldn’t do that. Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:
In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen. As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:
And this was our view of Jason Heyward:
Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…
…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.
When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).
We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen. Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:
When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season. We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.
As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting. The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making. But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting. They scored four runs all with two outs. Freddy Freeman led off with a single. He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout. Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward. Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game. Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run. Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.
It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game. Tim and I were pulling for it to happen. But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:
On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…
…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:
I would have preferred another comeback Braves win. But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.
The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).|
|62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|