Before Wednesday night, I had taken Tim to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play 10 times — 5 times for the Mariners, 4 for the Reds and 1 for the White Sox. Griff played in only two of those games. Only once as a Mariner. That game was, oddly, minor league turn back the clock day. So, prior to Wednesday night, Tim had seen Griff play one game wearing a White Sox uniform and one game wearing a Seattle Rainiers uniform.
Thus, the mission on this night: see Griff play baseball wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform for the first time in Tim’s life.
Much more on Griff later.
We started off the day by purchasing the cheapest seats in the house — right field upper deck — at the CF ticket office. We entered the stadium and headed into Section 90 — straight away CF. Tim was sitting on my shoulders and as we entered the seats we were greeted by the beautiful sight of a field full of Mariners taking batting practice and shagging balls.
Within a minute of entering the seats, I heard someone calling out, “Hey, Hey, Hey.” I looked to the right and saw a cop standing down in the grass below the batters’ eye:
This picture of Felix Herdanez warming up in front of the CF Ivy is out of order, but it illustrates the situation. (By the way, isn’t the ivy nice looking for the batters’ eye?)
We were standing in the seats essentially where the guy holding the little kid is standing (above the double doors). I looked down at the cop yelling up at me and I though to myself: “Oh, man, he’s about to tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.”
I was very wrong. Instead of reprimanding me for toting Tim on my shoulders, the good officer rewarded us with a baseball — a ball I like to think was hit into that grass area as a Mariners BP homerun — most likely a mammoth blast by none other than Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course that is just wishful speculation…but a guy is entitled to some wishful speculation from time-to-time). Anyway, I will take a baseball over a reprimand any day.
So, after thanking the officer, it was back to watching our Mariners warm up. Its amazing how many Mariners games I watch and yet how many Mariners look totally unrecognizable while wearing a jersey-hiding pull-over. The 3 guys in CF were totally unrecognizable. They must have been recent call-ups. One of them looked like he was 10 years old.
Off toward left CF was base coach Lee Tinsley with a guy who looked a lot like Felix Hernandez, but clearly was not Felix. In my post-game research, I’m pretty confident that it was new call-up Guillermo Quiroz. Anyway, he caught a ball in deep left CF. He had run in our direction to field the ball so it was natural to look toward us before turning to throw the ball in to the bucket. As Quiroz looked up, I flashed my glove and he spotted us. He was about 100 feet away or so. But he motioned to me. He was clearly getting ready to throw us the ball. But then he motions “down, down.” I’m clueless. He yells, “down, down.” I interpret this to mean, “Go down to the first row so the throw is easier.”
We walk down to the front row. Quiroz is walking toward us slowly, but is still at least 50 feet away. He points at Tim and says, “Put him down.” Wow — I’m getting reprimanded by a new Mariner! How could it be? Anyway, I put Tim down and he throws me the ball. He then yells, “I didn’t want to hit your boy.” Well, that’s not a reprimand at all. That’s just plain thoughtful. Looks like Quiroz is a keeper.
We watched a bit more batting practice, but Tim kept asking for ice cream. He explained, “they’re playing baseball. Its time for ice cream.” I explained that they were just practicing and we would get ice cream once the game started.
To tide Tim over, we decided to go to the kids’ play area. Tim played on the play set. He passed up on the bouncy house. But he gave the speed pitch a try for the first time:
Next, we headed back into the stadium and saw Jaime Burke stretching down the 3B line:
Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie!” Burke turned around and gave Tim a wave, which was nice because every time Tim waves or says hi to a player at a game he ends up asking me, “Can baseball players not hear me?”
I told Burke it was nice to have him back up with the big club. He thanked me.
We watched Burke warm up Felix Hernandez, first in the outfield grass and then in the bullpen:
Felix looked sharp in the bullpen. I was excited to see him pitch tonight. See the guy in the middle picture in the pull-over jacket? That is Jason Phillips the Mariners bullpen catcher. We watched Felix warm up from the seats just behind and to the left of Jamie Burke. Phillips (and at time pitching coach Rick Adair) stood to the right of Burke and watched Felix.
Eventually, Phillips passes in front of Burke and starts walking toward the bullpen bench. He stops in that little corner and starts digging around in that equipment bag behind the chairs. He dug around in there for about 10-15 seconds. Finally, he pulls out a baseball. He turns around and walks a couple feet toward us and threw it to us. Tim immediately told the guy next to us, “We got a baseball!” And then he yelled “thank you” to Phillips.
WOW – three balls with very little effort.
There would be no record breaking fourth baseball.
It was game time. With Tim on my shoulders, we headed toward the Mariners dugout just in time for the national anthem:
After the anthem, we looked around. No ushers in sight. Four empty seats in the first row of the dugout, right on the aisle. Why not stay a while? Sure thing.
Mariners photo session ensures:
…Ichi popped out…
…its okay, later he would blast a double high off of the CF wall.
Jason Vargas and Rob Johnson had a view of the game very similar to ours:
Vargas is impressing me so far. I’m hoping he keeps it up.
Vargas’s and Johnsons’s view of Russell Branyan probably looked a lot like this:
All this time, Tim hadn’t forgot about his ice cream. Despite the excellent seats, he wanted ice cream bad. I promised we’d go get ice cream right after Griff hit. I didn’t want us to miss this great view for Tim’s first time seeing Griff hit in a Mariners uniform.
The guy behind us offered to take out picture. But Tim put on his fussy “I need ice cream” face:
Since the M’s went 1-2-3 in the first, we got a chance to see King Felix up close in the bottom of the first before going to get Tim’s ice cream:
Mr. Gold Glove, Adrian Beltre, was there too:
While Felix looked in for the signs, Russell Branyan dried off his glove hand:
And just like that, IT WAS TIME — GRIFFEY TIME:
Look at this beautiful swing:
Folks, that swing is one of two things — a 450 foot home run or a foul straight back. Unfortrunately, this one was the latter. He missed it by a millimeter.
Here is a shot of Tim watching Griff and Ichiro bat:
Right after Griff popped out, we headed up the ailse with our sights set on ice cream (sadly, with no ice cream helmet). By the time we reached the top of the section, we had turned back to the field to watch Jose Lopez go deep for this first of two HRs on the day:
With a 1-0 lead in hand, Tim and I bought some chocolate ice cream and headed toward the RF corner. En route to grabbing some “ice cream seats” (def. seats found exclusively for the purpose of Tim eating his ice cream), for the second game in a row, we ran into MLBlogger Zack Hample wearing a hot pink “real men wear pink shirt.” We shared a few words with Zack before grabbing our ice cream seats. Tim can be seen in the last picture in Zack’s entry for this game — click here.
Tim was ready to dig into that ice cream!
We had a great view of Ichiro from these seats:
As Tim ate his ice cream, a familiar face (and shirt) walked by in the cross ailse behind us. It was The Happy Youngster (a/k/a Nick), of homerun catching fame. Some kind patron took an extremely blurry and generally weird picture of me, Brew Town’s Happy Youngster, and my own happy youngster:
Check out Tim multitasking, posing for a picture while still holding his ice cream spoon in his hand. Nick gave us a shout out (and some very kind words) on his entry for this game — click here.
The rest of the night, I was really hoping a Mariner would hit a HR to right field so I could see Zack and Nick battle for the HR. Here they are in home run territory in a photo I like to call “Dueling Ballhawks”:
You know that big warehouse in RF? You know how many people have hit a ball off of the warehouse in the history of Camden Yards? Its no secret. One man:
In this picture, Griff is laughing and seems somewhat embarrassed because they just showed a video about him hitting the warehouse and it said something like “Legends of Camden Yards”….or something like that.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed out to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards – the flag pavillion. I fake pitched about 100 balls to Tim and he fake ran the bases (circled the flags) about 100 times. For most of my fake pitches, I had to chase Tim and try to fake tag him out before he scored at fake home plate. This is Tim’s set Camden Yards routine. His home plate is always the same. This is hit thing at Camden Yards. He loves it. He ran a ridiculous amount. I ran a ridiculous amount. But it was fun.
And Tim was a big hit with the ushers, fans and the beer lady in the corner of the pavillion. Two fans gave Tim little stuffed Chik Fillet cows. The beer lady told me how wonderful Tim was over and over again before she gave him a whole bunch of Orioles baseball cards — she apologized that she didn’t have any Mariners cards.
Well, guess what, one of the ushers did. Check out the Bone:
In addition to running the fake bases in the flag pavillion, Tim played a lot of fake catch in the pavillion as well:
Hey, here’s a picture we haven’t got yet this season, the obligatory Eutaw Street / Warehouse picture:
Down the RF line in foul territory, there is a section of seating above the main cross aisle that is turned toward the field. That section is right behind our ice cream seats. The section was 95% empty. Tim explored it at length. He ran up and down most of the aisles. He chatted with most of the people in the section. He is a picture of Tim at the top of that section. He was yelling “HI GUYS!!” down to people on Eutaw Street and waving like crazy.
And here is a panoramic view looking toward the field from the same spot:
In the 8th and 9th innings, we went back and sat in the second row behind the Mariners dugout. It was a good spot to witness a big Mariners Win!
With two HRs on the night, the big hero was Jose Lopez who was interviewed in the dugout after the rest of the team cleared out:
As we were getting ready to head for the car, I noticed that Mariners trainer Rick Griffin was standing by the screen behind home plate with two very familiar looking bats. He let me get a close peak and a photo:
This was truly excellent night in Baltimore. We finally got to see Griff play, which was awesome. Ichiro had a lazer double. Lopez two HRs. Felix was dominant. And Tim had a blast running around the park.
Its always a great time when you go to Camden Yards, but its even better the 3-4 days each season when our Mariners are in town.
Next up, I think, the Reading Phillies!
Season Fan Stats:
13 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
8 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)
1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
7,735 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))
Well, I’m new to this blogging thing, and I somehow managed to do this write up and delete half of it. So, with mild frustration, I’ll give it another go. (Click Picture for Bigger Version).
Safeco Field is my baseball home. However, on Sunday, Tim and I trekked down to Baltimore to visit our baseball home-away-from-home:
We visit Camden Yards every season to see the Mariners. However, this trip was to see the Rays — one of the final 10 teams we need to see this season so Tim can say he’s seen ’em all. Seeing the Rays vs. O’s also gave us a chance to catch up with two former Phils, Pat “The Bat” Burrell and Adam Eaton.
Here is a shot of Burrell fouling off a pitch against Eaton. We bought tickets in the cheap seats ($9/upper deck left field), but never sat in our seats. At the beginning of the game, we grabbed some snacks (nachos for me, fries for Tim) and found some nice seats behind the left field foul pole. As we munched on our ball park fare, we witnessed a very un-Camden Yards event, unruly patrons being threatened with ejection from the park.
Apparently, three 20’something guys, brews in hand, had been the recipients of several profanity complaints. They did not react well to the news that further cursing would result in the boot. As the guards were leaving, the lead hooligan said to his accusers, “Thanks a lot for the warm welcome to Camden Yards. Happy Easter!” Tim got all excited and started yelling really loudly, “Happy Easter! Happy Easter! HAAAAAAPPPPY EASTERRRRR!”
Meanwhile, the Pride of the Snohomish Panthers got Pat the Bat to pop out to right. As you may know, Adam Eaton is from Snohomish, Washington where his high school was a conference rival with my Edmonds-Woodway Warriors. I figure he grew up a Mariners fan and, like me, a huge fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. So, I found it interesting to see Eaton was sporting the sacred “24” on his back. One of my co-workers, a die-hard Phillies fan, told me it wasn’t a very good way for Eaton to pay his respects to Griff (a reference to Eaton’s poor performance while playing for the Phillies).
After we finished our food, we headed to the upper deck to check out the view from the general vicinity of our actual seats. Not too bad:
We also saw this bush made into a batter up there.
Next, we headed to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards — the standing room area above the rightfield wall. It has an official name, honoring some former Oriole I can’t remember, but I like to just call it the flag pole courtyard. We we arrived at the flagpole courtyard, we were happy to see a beautiful flag announcing to the world the Mariners early-season dominance over the AL West:
Tim became so emotional after seeing this, he had to hug the Mariners first place pole
Tim loves running around all of the poles. And he always finds a puddle in need of some stomping. But this day, around the 5th or 6th inning, we received a surprise visitor out at the flag pole courtyard:
Right before this picture, Tim and The Bird had a full-on battle, a dancing battle. At the outset, it looked like the Bird was creeping up to Tim to give him a high five. But as the Bird approached, Tim busted out some crazy up-down arms/in-out legs dance moves. And the Dance Battle had begun. After Tim busted his moves, the Bird mirrored the moves. A small crowd gathered to watch and laugh. Tim then shimmied backwards, laid out backwards on the ground and rolled over a couple times. The Bird followed with the same. The crowd laughed more. Then, it was Tim’s turn. He popped to his feet and ran hard to the right looking back at the Bird over his shoulder and – BOOM! – he ran straight into the AL East first place flag pole (Blue Jays) and hit the deck. He thought it was hilarious. The Bird then started hobbling around like he was drunk.
Here is another picture of us with the Bird. This is actually pre-Battle, when Tim was sizing up his competition. A couple innings later (I believe in the 8th), Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena hit back-to-back jacks for the Rays. Pena’s HR ball landed just about where we are standing in this picture. It easily landed on the cement within 10 feet of us. I was blinded by the sun (as was everyone else) and totally lost the ball. The ball crashed hard to the pavement and bounced dirctly into a guys cheek bone and, from his face, back onto the field. A few minutes later, an Orioles attendant ran out with a bag of ice and a bottle of water for the guy.
Here is a good view of the flag courtyard:
The Pena homerun landed a couple feet closer to the camera from the closest pole direclty in the middle of the picture (the Rays flag pole). The Dance Battle with the Bird went down between the two furtherest poles in the middle and left side of the picture. Hey, while we’re standing right here, how about a picture of the original foul pole from Memorial Stadium?
Unless you’re in the tunnel, you cannot see the field from the concourse. However, there is plenty of standing room inside the stadium.
So, after hanging out for a long, long, long time in the flag pole courtyard and taking some picts for the panaramics above, it was time for a Cook tradition – ice cream in a home team helmet! Wait, the Orioles are one of the few teams out there who don’t have ice cream helmets. NOOOOOO!!!! I put in an official request (well, I told the lady in the fan assistance office that it was “official”) that they get ice cream helmets in the near future.
Tim didn’t seem to mind not having a helmet. And soon it was time for some jumping in the bouncy house!
Unfortunately, when it was time for Tim’s group of kids to clear out of the bouncy house, Tim (predictably) did not want to leave so this guy had to go get him (check out that sad face!):
Here is picture from the kids’ area looking toward the concourse.
From where I am standing with the camera, it is a hard right to get to right field and Eutaw Street. After taking this picture, we headed back to the courtyard for the Pena homerun. We then headed toward home plate to watch the rest of the game from the fancy seats. One great thing about Camden Yards (great for fans, not for the Orioles ownership) is that it is pretty empty a lot of the time. Lots of great seats to sit in. Here is a picture of us between the courtyard and home plate. An attendant actually took this right as we got to the field before the game.
And here are some view from the seats you can sit in after paying $9/ticket for the upper-deck:
We only sat in these seats for 1 inning. Tim was starting to get tired and grouchy from having no nap. After an inning, we went up directly behind home plate to see if anyone would foul a ball straight back. If they did, I figured I’d get it easily because no one was up there — maybe three people besides us. Well, I was wrong. A ball did get fouled straight back, but it hit the seats and richoted straight up. It landed on a little fence/ledge below the TV / radio booths. It then rolled toward the first base side for about 20 feet. Tim was on my shoulders and I trailed below the ball waiting for it to fall down. Unfortunately, it fell down about 5 feet in front of me and bounced once before falling down the stairway and directly to a teenage boy running up the stairs for the ball. Had the ball come down a foot or two in either direction, it would have missed the stairs and we would have gotten it easily. Bummer!
Anyway, here is a nice picture of the reverse view of the Pat Burrell photo above. When I took the Burrell photo, we were sitting almost directly where the attendant in the ridiculously bright orange jacket is standing in this photo…and the hooligans I mentioned earlier were sitting to the left in the first row above the aisle (the raised seats) and directly against the tunnel out to the concourse. Anyway, that, in a nutshell, was our first game of the season. As for the actual game, the Rays won 11-3. The Orioles scored all 3 of their runs in the bottom of the 9th. James Sheilds got the win, Adam Eaton the loss. Homeruns by Longoria, Pena, Zobrist, and Barlett. A 3 RBI triple by Carl Crawford. It was an action-packed game, and an extremely fun game, particularly for a game without the Mariners I’ll leave you with some season fan stats and a couple more pictures fo me and the little guy taken by the very accomodating stadium attendants:
Season Fan Stats:
1 Stadium (Camden Yards)
2 Teams (Orioles, Rays)
0 Ice Cream helmets (Booo Orioles!)
1 Awesome Day of Baseball
Next Up: Padres vs. Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, April 19, 2009