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)|
We woke up in the La Quinta Inn’s “Oakland Airport Coliseum” hotel on the morning of Thursday, June 10, 2010 ready for a Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip first: our second game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, which would mark the first time we have attended two games at the same stadium during a roadtrip. Once again, we would be seeing the California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County taking on the Oakland Athletics.
We grabbed some free breakfast in the hotel lobby area, showered up, Tim built a very rudimentary fort…
…and we were off to the Coliseum. Once again the La Quinta shuttle (van) dropped us off at the BART stop. Tim loved driving in the van and made sure to tell numerous people that “we drove here in a van!”
The day before, the outside security person hardly glanced into my big green backpack. Today, the guy must have been a former-TSA agent. He poked, prodded, made me remove 70% of the contents, and then decided the backpack was too big to go into the stadium. I’ve take this same backpack everywhere (probably to 20 different stadiums), including THIS same stadium. I told the guy I had brought this same backpack into the Coliseum not 12 hours ago and I crammed it into the little measurement box. Finally, the authority figure relented, “I’ll let you take it in…this time.”
So we were in…
We headed to RF where my dad had noticed a baseball in the gap the night before. I’d brought a rubber band, string, and sharpie with the thought of trying my first ever attempt at the glove trick. The ball was still there. But, I never even rigged up my glove. It would have taken too much effort, I think.
Instead, Tim and I stood in the RF corner right next to the foul pole and watched Jered Weaver play catch with former Mariner Joel Piniero. Weaver was standing right in front of us and, interestingly, he was using two baseballs to play catch. He’d hold one ball in his glove and throw the other. After the throw, he’d transfer the second ball to this throwing hand so he could catch the first ball after Piniero threw it back to him.
Once they finished up their throwing, Weaver tossed one ball into the seats behind him and then turned and tossed the second ball to us.
After Weaver tossed us the ball, Piniero walked over to the foul line. I called out to Joel and he gave us a wave. I asked if he would take a picture with Tim. He said yes, but first he had to do some running in the OF.
A few minutes later, we got Weaver to autograph the baseball he’d tossed us and pose for a picture with Tim (look for Joel in the background):
I think this is the second time this season that we have gotten a baseball, picture and autograph all from the same player at a game, the first being Billy Wagner, and I think it is really cool. Thinking back, we did this once last season with C&S Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith. (We also got all three from Jason Phillips last season, but the picture and autograph were at different games).
We moved around the corner to the RF foul seats to get that picture with Weaver. I should mention that this was a 12:35 p.m. day game following a night game. We didn’t think there would be any BP, but we were wrong. The A’s took BP (the Angels did not).
Standing right in front of us in RF was an Oakland Athletic. I had no clue who he is. I don’t bring a roster to games (and if I review a roster before a game it is generally just to see if any former Mariners are on the team). But I have a secret weapon — a Canon PowerShot SX200IS with 12 x optical zoom and (48 x total zoom) — and that often times is all that it takes…
No one else around seemed to know that it was Ziegler. No one had said his name when he’d shagged balls nearby. Once I figured out who it was and he shagged another baseball (about 40-50 feet from the foul line), I called how, “Hey, Brad Zeigler! Zeeeeegs!” That tipped everyone off in the section and when Ziegler looked over EVERYONE (well, not me, Tim or my Dad) started yelling his name. Ziegler looked discouraged by the yelling and started to turn back toward “the bucket.” Just then, Tim called out:
Ziegler quickly swiveled back toward the stands: “Who said “ball please!?” And he started walking toward the seats with the baseball. I pointed at Tim. Then, a kid about 4-5 rows further out in the outfield yelled, “I did!” Ziegler veered to his left and started heading to that little liar kid.
“He did!” I said, as I pointed at Tim. Then some random other guy pointed at Tim and shouted out, “THIS LITTLE KID DID!”
Ziegler changed course again. He approached Tim.
ZIEGLER: “You said ‘ball please’?”
Ziegler gives the ball to Tim.
Thanks, Brad! (And thanks to the “random other guy” for the assist).
It was a great lesson for Tim. I told him (and have told him numerous times since then) that he got that baseball because he said “please” and it has had a very powerful impact on Tim. He’s saying please a lot all of a sudden!
Soon, Joel Piniero headed over our way. Do you know about the photo scavenger hunt on mygameballs.com? If not, click here. We’re having fun trying to collect some of the scavenger hunt photos and Joel was kind enough to help us out with a 5-pointer — Tim fist bumping a player:
Anyway, it was awesome to see Joel. I really liked him as Mariner and was sad to see him go. He was also kind enough to sign the Brad Ziegler “ball please” ball for Tim…and another baseball for my Dad (but not the one he’d just thrown my Dad the day before).
Ahh…a couple things I forgot to mention:
First, between our Weaver picture and getting the Ziegler baseball, someone hit a high foul pop fly down the 1B line. I ran over a couple seats away from the field and positioned myself for a big bounce over everyone in the first two rows. And I would have got the ball too had it not bounced directly into a 30-year old’ish guy’s nose. The guy was going for the ball and it cleaned his clock. His nose opened up like a faucet. It wasn’t pretty.
Third, also while we were waiting for Piniero, some fan decked out in Angels gear came down to the bullpen and (with Joel Piniero standing about 30 feet to his right) asked the guys in the bullpen, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?” Everyone said no. Then numerous Angels started asking their teammates really loudly, “Do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?” Everyone said no. Then one of them yells to Joel, “Hey, do you know when Joel Piniero is going to be out here?” Joel looks all around…nope, he had no clue either when Joel Piniero would be out there. This never stopped while we were out there and the guy never figured out that Joel was standing right there.
Okay, after the picture with Joel, we decided to go check out our seats…
…I got us some excellent seats in the first row (well, third row because of the on field seats) in Section 125 by third base. They were looking really nice, except that the fence gave them very little leg room.
Side note, on the way over to our seats, we walked through the rows of empty seats all the way from the RF corner. That’s pretty standard during BP, right? Well, as we circled around home plate we were in about the third row above the dugout when an usher stopped us. After yesterday’s “you gotta eat in your own seats 40 minutes before the game” incident, I was ready for anything. She didn’t dissappoint. She told me we couldn’t walk through the rows. If we wanted to get from Section 120 Row 3 to Section 125 Row 1, we would have to walk up to the cross aisle behind row 20 and walk behind the 99% empty seating sections and then walk down the aisle at section 125. Okay.
Next, we decided to head over to left field. Oddly, there was no one there. Literally, other than an usher, there was no one else in foul territory down the line (which was very odd because there were a bunch of people in RF foul territory). There were a bunch of people in LF homerun territory and this guy…
…was taking care of everybody. Right as we walked up to the wall in LF foul territory, this guy got a baseball and threw it to someone in homerun territory. Immediately, another ball came, and after spotting Tim he threw it to us. Three more balls came to LF within the next 3 minutes and this guy was all over the field shagging everything and he gave every one of those five baseballs to people in the seats. Very cool.
I had no clue who he was. So I did my zoom trick. No name on the glove. But he did have a number: 48 (click on the picture to the right to make it larger if you can’t see the 48 stitched on the glove). According to the A’s website this generous guy’s name is Michael Wuertz.
Soon, BP came to an end.
I wanted to do some more exploring, and so did Tim and my Dad. On our way out of the field level, I took the following picture of the A’s bullpen…
We were off to the upper deck. The true upper deck. The 300 level, which is only open in three sections right behind home plate. First, we had to figure out how to get up there.
It was pretty empty in the concourse as we made our way to the 300 level seats…
(Hopefully you can tell that is three pictures put together. The bottom picture is the real picture. The middle is a zoomed in version of the bottom picture, and the top picture is zoomed in even further).
But we weren’t up here just to look over the wall. We were here to check out the view of the ballpark from the 300 level. Here is the view from the last row in Section 318 of the Coliseum:
Finally, the game was about to start. We went to the fan assistance booth on our way to our seats to ask where we could find ice cream helmets. The jumbo helmet last night was cool, but we wanted individual sized A’s ice cream helmets today. We were told to go to Section 130. But when we arrived one of the guys at the ice cream place informed us that they were OUT OF ICE CREAM HEMLETS! Instead, he offered us little styrofoam bowls that looked like they’d hold about 2 table spoons of ice cream.
Frustrated by this development, we suffered through our still delicious ice cream cones:
Finally, the A’s took the field…
…and this was our view from Section 125, Row 1, seats 3-5:
As usual, the guys in the bleachers had their A’s flags moving in a slow downward waving motion:
There was no scoring in the first three innings, so I took some random shots of Tim and my Dad:
Finally, the A’s got the scoring started in the bottom of the 4th inning when Ryan Sweeney hit an RBI double and then scored on a single by Gabe Gross (not in that at bat shown above).
It seemed like A’s relievers were walking back-and-forth in front of us all day…
…maybe they were visiting in the little boys’ room. Their bullpen, of course, does not have its own little boys’ room. Hey, did you notice who was in that back-and-forth picture? No, not 2009 Rookie of the Year, Andrew Bailey, I mean my “ball please” Brad Ziegler.
Tim amused himself by making me take a series of funny face shots and extreme-funny-face close ups…
So would this…
The Angels finally got on the board in the fifth inning when Juan Rivera hit this double to deep LCF…
The sun was beating down hot (but humidity free) and was tiring out Tim…
Not comfortable with a one-run lead, the A’s tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on singles by Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki and Kevin Kooooooooouzmanoff.
Torii Hunter grounded out harmlessly in the sixth…
In the ninth, Cahill turned the ball over to Andrew Bailey…
This was a fun game in some great seats. We had an usher take out picture before heading out:
The day was still early and our next game was just over 24-hours and about 400 miles away. Instead of starting a long drive in the evening, we drove only about 40 miles south to San Jose where we dined at In-N-Out Burger…
All around, it was an excellent day. And we were looking forward to another one the next day at Dodger Stadium, which would be Tim’s 20th MLB stadium.
2010 Fan Stats:
12 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
25 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 4 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 3 Athletics, 1 Angels)
6 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium)
9 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)