Our baseball season came to a close at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, where the surging Orioles faced off against the floundering Boston Red Sox.
We had four goals for this game: (1) have a ton of fun taking in our final game of the season, (2) catch at least one baseball to complete our first ever perfect season of getting at least one baseball at each game we attended, (3) try to get our hands on at least one more Fenway 100 commemorative baseball, and (4) have even more fun.
The past several seasons, the Orioles have had a lot of signs all over downtown Baltimore during a bulk of the season, and then in September they were nowhere to be seen. I was excited to see whether thing would be different in September 2012 with the Orioles just a game back in the A.L. East and in wild card position. And it was:
There were Orioles banners all over downtown Baltimore, as well as an Orioles van!
We arrived at Camden Yards with plenty of time to spare before the gates opened:
It was the final statue (Brooks Robinson) dedication night so there was a huge crowd when we arrived at the CF gate:
We met up with Alex Kopp and Avi Miller (and Avi’s sister and friend), and past time Felixing…
…and eating various special flavored oreos until the gates opened.
When the gates opened, we grabbed our Brooks Robinson statues, handed them off to Avi (who had given us free tickets in exchange for our statues), and headed over to foul territory down the LF line:
By the time the gates opened, a huge crowd was ready to head inside for the dedication of Brooks Robinson’s new statue. Earlier in the season we were at Camden Yards for the dedication of Frank Robinson’s statue. At that game, the line outside the ballpark was also huge, but BP was pretty much just like any other game. But that was early in the season before the Orioles acquired tens-of-thousands of new fans. BP at this game was packed.
We were in a prime spot to get a ball from one of the Red Sox pitchers…
…and we were hoping it would be one of those beautiful Fenway 100 commemoratives.
Eventually, an Orioles batter hit a ball down the line into the LF corner and this trainer guy…
…tossed it over to us.
Thanks, unidentified trainer guy!
That made Tim and me 27-for-27 and Kellan 25-for-25 on the season! Our first ever perfect season, which was pretty cool.
But we still had our sights set on snagging one of those Fenway 100 baseballs.
The only Red Sox reliever who was near us and I recognized was Andrew Bailey:
He was in the last set of Red Sox down the line and, as you can see, he was on the OF side as they warmed up. But then they did some pitching to each other. Bailey came in to approximately 60 feet and popped-a-squat to play catcher. After his partner finished pitching they switched spots and Bailey pitched from the warning track just in front of us. As he pitched, I could tell that he was using a Fenway 100 baseball!
As we watched Bailey with great interest, our ears were treated to a number of speakers telling tales of the great Brooks Robinson – who was no more than 100 yards from us at the time:
By the time Bailey finished pitching, the seats around us at had filled in with fans. But, luckily, I was the first and only person to call out, “Hey, Andrew!” When he turned around, I pointed to Tim and asked if he could toss his ball over.
On his first throw, I didn’t think the ball was going to make it into the stands so I reached out for it and Tim and I clanked our gloves together and the ball bounced back towards Bailey. He tossed it again and I stood back so Tim could make a high catch on it:
What a beauty:
It was getting so crowded down the LF line that we decided to relocate to LCF by the bullpens. On or walk over there, this was our view of the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony:
Here is the best view we ever got of Brooks or his statue:
Shortly after setting up shop by the bullpens, Tim declared it was snack time. He was wearing his new white (and highly stainable) Felix Hernandez jersey that his grandparents gave him after the Ichiro trade. Snack time brought on the first of several stain-preventing outfit changes for Tim:
In that picture above to the left, he is stuffing his white jersey into a bag so he can enjoy some “pirates” (shown in the middle picture).
Not much was happening in the OF, either from a homerun or a Red Sox toss-up perspective. So we entertained ourselves by chatting, snacking, crowd watching, and taking pictures.
Here’s a picture of a temporary banner the Orioles hung behind home plate to thank their new fans – winning creates new fans:
Here’s a picture of the boys just clowning around in the seats:
Now check out this picture of the crowd:
It’s hard to believe that is Camden Yards! As I said, winning creates new fans. If you have a very keen eye (and know what he looks like), you might be able to spot a red-shirted Alex Kopp in that last picture.
After BP ended, we hung out by the bullpens until around game time. Alex came over and we chatted with him a bit. With the crazy BP crowd, he had not managed to catch a baseball. But he ended up getting one from Rick Adair at the bullpen before the game started.
Just before game time, we started to make our way over to the kids’ play area. By that point, they had cleared the statue area so they could clean up all of the seats, etc., used during the ceremony. This was our view of the final new statue as we passed by:
Pretty much at every game we spend some time in the kids’ play area and some time watching the game. At this game, we let the kids call the shots and it resulted in what might be a world, single-game record for amount of time spent in a kids’ play area.
We started with some air-T batting:
We did a little bouncing:
Tim took his cuts in the batting cage:
And then we landed at the pitching cage, where we would spent a huge amount of time at this game:
In Tim’s first turn in the pitching cage (three tosses per turn), Tim threw the fastest recorded pitch of his young life: 37 blazing miles per hour. He matched it once more during the night (and I didn’t get a picture of either of them), but most of this pitches clocked in between 33-36 miles per hour. Kellan, on the other hand, did not throw a single clockable pitch. But he was definitely a fan favorite in the pitching cage.
After the first pass through the kids’ play area, we decided to pull the old switcheroo – dessert before dinner. It was the bottom of the first inning with no score, and we headed to the statue area for our last ice cream helmets of the season.
It was packed out there. Every seat was filled with a brand-new Orioles fan or a dejected Red Sox fan, and all of the good standing room spots were full. The boys grab some non-prime seating spots along the wall where I could sort of see the action:
Adam Jones went down swinging…
…to the first inning.
We watched the scoreless top of the second inning from the same spot. And Kellan made certain that he didn’t waste even a drop of melted ice cream:
During the bottom of the second inning, the Orioles put a little rally together and the boys and I decided to head back behind home plate and then back to the kids play area. On our way through the cross aisle, an usher was kind enough to take our picture:
As we approached the cross-aisle behind third base, Manny Machado hit a ground ball single up the box and into CF. Chris Davis scored the first run of the night on the play.
We made it back to home plate just in time to watch Lew Ford…
…foul out to end the inning.
So, with the score 1-0 Orioles after two inning, we were off to the kids play area again. On our way, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with a muscle car:
(Tim loves pointing out muscle cars when we are in the car).
And then it was off to the pitching cage again:
(those lines are running from the muscle car toward the cage).
We stayed at the kids’ play area for a long, long time doing all sorts of playing. Like this…
And some standing around waiting to play, like this:
When we finally left the play area, the game was heading into the bottom of the fourth inning and it was still 1-0 Orioles. We headed out to the flag court. It was packed out there:
I should mention that right before we headed to the flag court, or maybe even while we were en route to the flag court, Chris Davis launched his 30th homerun of the season deep into the seats in RCF (much more CF than RF). That made it 3-0 Orioles and the place was going crazy – partially because the Orioles were playing a “Gangnam Style” parody video on the big screen called “Camden Style.”
We were out in the flag court for the top of the fifth. Unforutnately, the lead off batter walked and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homerun into the seats in RCF just past the flag court.
That made the score 3-2 Birds.
The Orioles Bird was out in the flag court and, despite the Salty-Bomb, he was plenty happy about the O’s 1-run lead. He celebrated by eating Tim’s head…
…and a few minutes later, he came back to shake Tim’s hand while we were on our way back to the play area.
On our way back to the play area, I noticed this big picture of Memorial Stadium:
I’m not sure how long its been there. Maybe it’s always been there. But I have never really paid attention to it. I was never at a game at Memorial Stadium. But it is cool to see that the Orioles paid tribute to it on the design of the home plate area at Camden Yards – the two look very similar.
After our final many rounds of pitching in the cage…
…we headed off to the club level to meet up with Avi and have some dinner:
While we were in the Club Level, Avi was none-to-pleased to see Adam Jones and Chris Davis fail to communicate properly, leading to a dropped ball by Davis and a game-tying third run for the Red Sox. That was in the top of the sixth inning.
The score remained 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, which Machado led off by belting a homerun into the LF seats. And just like that, the O’s were back on top 4-3.
In the eighth inning, we decided to head down to the field level. On our way through the Club Level on our way to the elevator, I snapped some pictures of the décor:
We headed here…
…for the rest of the game. This was my standing-room view from the cross-aisle behind second 32:
I should mention that the Yankees had already lost their game against the Blue Jays. With the Yankees loss, the O’s were just half a game back in the A.L. East. The team and the crowd badly wanted a share of first place.
The Orioles sent in their All-Star closer Jim Johnson to get the final three outs of the game. Meanwhile, we pondered the idea of going for a post-game umpire baseball. We moved more directly behind home plate in the cross-aisle.
It took six pitches, but Johnson mowed down Cody Ross on strikes. Eight pitches later, Johnson retired Mauro Gomez on a line drive to RF. It was no routine liner though. It was softly hit and former-Royal/Expo/National/Phillie/Met/Mariner Endy Chavez had to race in and make a nice diving catch to record the out.
When the whole crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of the final out of the game, the Red Sox sent Saltalamacchia to the plate, and I sent Tim down the stair case to get into position for an umpire ball. Kellan and I stayed at the top of the stairs where this was our view of the Tim and the game:
This was the TV viewing audience’s view of Tim and the game just prior to the final pitch of the night:
And so was this:
That guy right next to Tim is about to tap him on the shoulder and give him the open seat right along the umpires’ tunnel.
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Saltalamacchia flew out to LF to end the game. Tim was already in perfect position. The crowd was going crazy and no one was leaving. So Kellan and I had an easy time making our way down the stairs to the fourth row (two rows behind Tim).
I had told Tim already that the umpires’ name was Greg Gibson. When the four umps converged on the warning track just behind home plate, Tim must have already called out Gibson’s name because once they opened up the umpires’ gate, Gibson ducked into the tunnel and walked right over to Tim. They had a little conversation that probably lasted 10-20 seconds. And then Gibson pulled a beautiful Camden Yards commemorative baseball out of his pouch and set it into Tim’s glove before giving Tim a final smile and turning back toward the exit. Two steps later, Gibson handed another beautiful commemorative baseball to Kellan.
Double thanks, Mr. Gibson!
We quickly relocated to the first row to watch the stadium celebrate. The highlight of the celebration was when the Orioles Bird ran over and gave all three of us high fives through the protective netting. I thought that was pretty funny in light of the fact that we were all wearing Mariners jerseys. But, hey, we were celebrating right along with everyone else. It was a great atmosphere.
A few minutes later, an usher took a final, blurry photo of the three of us before we started to pack up to get out of there:
It’s been another great season with my boys, and a lot of fun having Kellan join in the fun with Tim and me.
On our way out of the ballpark, Tim posed for a picture with Brooks Robinson’s number 5 posted on the warehouse:
They had already locked up RF and CF gates into the flag court and CF bleachers:
But Eutaw Street was rocking:
On our way out, we tried to go over and get a better look at the new Brooks Robinson statue, but about 3,000 other people had the same idea and this is as close as we got:
And just like that, our in person MLB season was over…
…, goodbye, Camden Yards.
We can wait to come back for more in 2013.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|27/25 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|
|44 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 7, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|155 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 11, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 8, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6|
|27 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 13, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 2, 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 Park10/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (4); 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 April 26, 1901, a new American League franchise known as the Boston Americans played its first game at the good old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. In 1908, the team changed its name to the Red Sox, and kept showing up at Huntington Ave. to play some ball.
The Red Sox celebrated Fenway’s opening day by beating the visiting New York Highlanders 7-6. At the time, Babe Ruth was a 17-year-old high school student in Baltimore, and it would be a little more than two years before he would make his Major League debut at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914. On a personal note, it would be seven years before the birth of my first-born grandparent, Leonard Flathers, in April 1919.
Fast forward 100 years to 2012, Babe Ruth is one of the most iconic baseball figures of all time and has been dead for 64 years, my grandpa is still going strong at age 93, and the Red Sox are still playing ball at a beautiful little treasure called Fenway Park.
I’m dubbing Fenway’s 100thAnniversary the “Fentennial” – and I declared long ago that there was no way that my boys and I would miss out on joining in the Fentennial Celebration.
So, on May 26, 2012 – the 100 year anniversary of a Red Sox off-day in the middle of a 21 game homestand – Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I rolled into Boston for the baseball portion of a fun little Memorial Day weekend.
It would be just me and the boys at the game. Colleen had shopping and a movie on her agenda, but was primarily looking forward to a Sunday in Mystic, CT and at the beach. We arrived in downtown Boston around 3:00 p.m. The gates wouldn’t open for normal BP for several hours. But I wanted to get in a little earlier than “normal.” I knew there was a way to do it, but I didn’t know quite how it worked.
While Colleen took Tim to play in the fountain at Copley Square, Kellan and I headed to Fenway Park…
…to ask how we could join the “Red Sox Nation” and get into BP early. The lady in the box office and a guy at Gate C both told us just to come back to Gate C at about 4:45 and there would be a lady with a clip board who would sign us up, and then we could scoot on into BP half an hour before the regular folks. So that was the plan.
Before heading back toward the Prudential Center area, Kellan got his first look inside Fenway Park through a big screen at the Bleacher Bar in CF:
Then we walked back down Ipswich and Boylston Streets where we met up with Colleen and a fountain-drenched Tim. We ate a delicious late lunch at McGreevy’s Irish Pub (http://www.mcgreevysboston.com/)…
…and then the boys and I headed back down Boylston (stopping along the way to get a picture with some Boston firemen) and Ipswich and arrived at Fenway Park…
…around 4:30. I signed up for Red Sox Nation (at a cost of $15, which also got me some cool Fenway Park 100 Years keepsakes), and then Tim acted a fool standing against the outside wall of Fenway Park until our group of RSN members started to file into the park around 4:45.
Other than just enjoying ourselves and taking in the Fentennial Celebration, my goal of the day was to try to get one of the beautiful “Fenway 100 Years” commemorative baseballs. That’s why I wanted to get into early BP, so the Red Sox would still be on the field and hopefully would be using the special baseballs.
The Red Sox pitch the early BP experience as an opportunity to go up onto the Green Monster, which I really wanted to do. But I could tell the Monster was already getting crowded (we were toward the end of the RSN line) and I didn’t think Kellan would be able to see anything from up there. As we approached the stairs to the Green Monster, I asked the usher-guy if we could just go into RF. He said “sure thing.” So that’s what we did.
There were only about 20 fans in the CF/RF bleachers. We stashed Kellan’s stoller behind the Red Sox bullpen, and then found ourselves a spot along the visitors’ bullpen:
In a matter of about 2 minutes, Alfredo Aceves (who was playing 2-person pepper with another Red Sox player across the RF grass) tossed us his extra baseball…
…and then Franklin Morales tossed us a baseball he shagged off the bat of one of his teammates. Neither of the baseballs were “Fenway 100” balls, but they were both much appreciated by the three of us.
Thanks, Alfredo and Franklin!
Now there was one thing standing in the way of our quest to get a Fenway 100 baseball. The sun. It was blazing down on us and there was no shade to be found in RF. We were in trouble. Tim wanted some shade and wanted it bad.
I looked around and there wasn’t anyone official looking who might stop us from heading into the shade at the back of the grandstand in the RF foul corner. So we headed over there.
So we found some shade. But we might as well have been in our hotel room. We were a long way from the field and there was zero chance one of those Fenway 100 baseballs would come find us up there.
And then I noticed something: the whole 3B/LF side of the ballpark was shaded. There was no one over there and I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be able to go there, but there were no ushers around to tell us otherwise.
So we started walking toward home plate through the aisle at the back of the grandstand:
Look at all of that glorious shade over there, and all of that lack of people!
Well, no one stopped us. So we headed down to the Red Sox dugout:
There were a bunch of fans on the warning track behind home plate and a few people in the stands around the dugout. But it seemed like everyone sitting in the stands (which was very few people) were wearing Red Sox / Fenway Park employee polo shirts. It seemed that these people were just hanging out watching some Sox BP until their shifts started.
We continued toward the LF foul corner and ended up here:
Eventually, an usher slowly made his way over to us. He approached and asked –
Usher – “Do you have some sort of ID or something? Are you supposed to be here?”
Todd – “We’re part of Red Sox Nation here for early BP.”
Usher (looking around at absence of any other fans) – “Are you supposed to be over here?”
Todd – “I don’t know. It’s our first time doing this early BP…but we were over in RF and the sun was killing my boys so we walked over here to hide away in the shade.”
Usher (looking around with a “hmmmph” expression) – “Okay. Have fun.”
Did I mention that people at Fenway Park are, almost as an absolute rule, awesome!? They are. I’ve been to a number of games at Fenway dating back to 2000. Both with my boys (in 2009 and 2012) and with my wife before we had boy (2000, 2003, and 2005’ish), the people at Fenway have always been amazingly cool to us. We’ve seen the Mariners beat up the Red Sox a bit while I was all decked out in Mariners gear and everyone has always been completely cool to me. This usher fit the mold – another cool Bostonian at Fenway Park.
Not much was happening when we first got down the line. There was one guy (who seemed like a coach) shagging balls in LF. Tim and I were looking at the beautiful Green Monster just a short distance to our left when Tim pointed at the Monster and said, “I bet if Big D was still playing he’d hit it way over the green monster!” That gave me a chuckle.
“Big D,” of course, is a star Red Sox hitter in a book Tim and I read a few months ago called “The Fenway Foul-Up,” which is the first installment of David A. Kelly’s “Ballpark Mysteries” series. Interestingly, shortly after this game, I had a chance email exchange with David and he recently sent us autographed copies of the first four Ballpark Mysteries books:
The fifth Ballpark Mystery book (set at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City) just came out and we’re looking forward to reading it soon. The first four books have all been fun to read with Tim. So if you have kids and like reading about baseball, head over to Amazon.com and check them out.
Anyway, back to the game. A couple years ago, I made an incredibly ugly and uncomfortable baseball glove. For some reason, Kellan had grabbed it off of my shelf and was walking around with it a couple days before this game so I decided to bring it with us. And when that Red Sox coach in LF fielded a baseball, I used my “Learned Glove” (my fake baseball glove company name) to catch our third baseball of the day:
It was also not a “Fenway 100” baseball. But, again, it was much appreciated.
Thanks, (probably) Coach!
Eventually, I asked this guy if he had seen any of the Fenway 100 baseballs, and I mentioned we were hoping to get one. After that, I saw him check the logos on most of the balls he fielded, but none of them were commemorative. When the Red Sox cleared the field and the gates opened to the rest of the fans, it seemed very certain that we would not get a Fenway baseball.
The Rays pitchers ended up warming up right below us. And it was pretty awesome when Matt Moore tossed us his (and Alex Cobb’s) warm up baseball:
It was starting to get crowded down the LF line, and we were completely out of water. We decided to go fill up Kellan’s list water bottle in the concourse. With a full load of water, we headed over to the visitors’ dugout to see what we could see:
We saw Ken Rosenthal reporting for Fox Sports (this was the Saturday game of the day for Fox). Even better than seeing Rosenthal, we saw this cool plaque on the back of the dugout:
Click that to make it bigger and you can read the history of the Fenway Park visitors’ dugout and club house.
While it was cool to see the historical info on the plaque, the dugout wasn’t the place for us to be. I spotted our next destination from across the ballpark:
SHADE IN THE OUTFIELD!
We walked the awesomely cramped and cave-like Fenway Park concourse…
…on our way to the back row against the wall in section 35:
I’m not exaggerating. He hung out against the wall…
…the nice and shady wall.
I didn’t think we would get a Fenway baseball from the Rays and we already had four baseballs on the day, so we really made no effort to get another. But the Rays would have none of that! A Rays righty-batter hit a homerun that landed about 2-3 rows in front of us…
…bounced off the wall (I’m not sure if I can call it the “Monster” out there above the bleahers, but its definitely at least “Monster-Adjacent” or, like, the Monster’s twin brother) and then it bounced over me into a folded up chair. No one else had a real chance at it. It was an easy grab for our fifth baseball of the day – also not a Fenway baseball.
Hey, do you see that guy in the light blue sleeves in the left part of that last two-part picture above? That is Alex Cobb. Before this homerun, he had fielded a baseball and I saw that he tucked it into his glove, which he was holding in his arms (not wearing on his hand).
Anyway, while Kellan and I just relaxed and watched the world go by, Tim took about 20-30 pictures with my camera, including this one:
And the picture below on the left:
My guess is that those big metal discs are used to tie down the batters’ eye tarp, which was removed for this game.
Tim took this picture too (I think) of Alex Cobb and his two buddies:
Around this time, Cobb turned around and looked at the bleachers. He gave absolutely no indication that he had any plans. He was just looking at the bleachers. But I knew he still had that baseball in his glove. Without standing up or making a sound, I simply raised my glove in a “here’s your target” motion. And Cobb pulled out the baseball and (essentially, I had to get out of my seat to catch it) hit the target.
Wow – it was our SIXTH baseball of the day, and also not commemorative. We seemed like we had exceeded our quota. How could we get any more to get one of those commemoratives? It’s not like we get an unlimited number of baseballs, you know?
Anyway, BP wrapped up. We decided to head all the way back over to the LF foul corner so the boys could give a thorough inspection of a really big and cool lego Fenway Park on display in the concourse. On our way, an usher took these to pictures of us (as an attempt at a MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Fenway Park bonus picture):
I like both pictures, but the Fenway sign is a bit too far away and small. We would have to try again.
Kellan’s little umbrella stroller was still hanging from the railing behind the Red Sox bullpen. When we went to grab it, a guy who appeared to be the Red Sox bullpen catcher was walking around in the bullpen:
He walked toward the bullpen bench and out of sight below us, and then he flipped a baseball over the bullpen that seemed to come flying out of nowhere. It came right to me and I caught it with my bare left hand as I held Kellan in my right arm.
Wow – SEVEN baseballs, and no Fenway 100 Years commemoratives. It seemed like it just wasn’t meant to be for us to get one.
We meandered slowly on our way over to that lego Fenway Park. We headed up the stairs in the RF foul concourse and got Tim’s picture with a “Go Red Sox” sign painted on the wall:
We walked the aisle behind the grandstand seats again, and then headed down toward the bullpen like we had done early in BP. This time, we stopped and had a fan take our Fenway Park bonus picture:
And finally we made our way to the lego Fenway:
Next, it was back to the water fountain where Tim filled his hat up with water about 5 times and doused his head with cold water, and I poured some water on Kellan’s head to cool him down too.
I’ve never been in the “upper deck” at Fenway, ever. It’s pretty crazy and very unlike me. But it’s just so small and it has always seemed like you needed tickets up there to get there, so I have never even really made an effort to get up there. So we decided to go check it out.
But our attempt was cut short when we saw Big League Brian from the grandstand and had to go say hello:
Big League Brian hangs out on Yawkey Way “outside” Fenway Park. I put the “outside” in parentheses because it is literally outside of the stadium, but it is “inside” the gates and is considered to be “inside” the ballpark. You can go freely in-and-out to Yawkey Way throughout the game.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, our Big League Brian side trip to Yawkey Way made it so we never made it up to the upper deck. Instead, we headed back to RCF for the start of the game.
I like to snap a picture of the first pitch of a game. As you can see below (top left), the match up was Josh Beckett vs. Carlos Pena…
…but just as the first pitch was delivered and I squeezed down on my picture button (top right), a fan walked in front of me. And then another fan, and another fan, and another fan. It was not until the fourth pitch of the game (bottom left) that I got a clear view of home plate, and that pitch sent Pena back to the dugout (bottom right) as Beckett’s first strike out victim of the night.
We pulled the old switcheroo at the game. We’d eaten a late lunch at McGreevy’s so we started our ballpark eating activities with an early dessert…
…, which came in commemorative Fenway 100 Years ice cream hemlets!
From a fan perspective, the beginning of this game was pretty ridiculous. We were about 3-4 rows from the back wall of the stadium, and almost as far as you could get from home plate, but no one seemed to be in her or her assigned seat in our section (well, we were in ours).
A group of six brides maids and a soon-to-be bride showed up to claim their seven seats in the row behind us. But the entire row was full. A guy sitting in the middle of their seats announced that his seat was in the middle of our row, but someone was in his seats. Everyone looked everywhere. No one knew what to do.
Eventually, one of the brides maids got the Fenway seat police involved:
The guy in the red shirt delivered the message, “Hey, work it out guys. Yeah, you’re in the wrong row. Move.” And the brides maids finally sat down and stopped blocking our view.
Speaking of our view, here is what Fenway Park looks like from section 39, row 47, seat 1:
We had seats 1-2 in our row. Kellan was a non-paying, seatless customer. Miraculously, in a packed house, seats 3-5 in our row were empty pretty much all night.
But early on Kellan wasn’t interest in seats 3-5. He wanted to hang out on the steps and chat up the girl in red just across the aisle from us:
He was working a pretty solid game of *I’m a cute little kid* and she was watching him much more than she was paying attention to the game or her man-friend. As you can see (above to right), he also spent some quality *hanging on daddy’s leg* time.
Before too long, it was time for the second half of the old switheroo – pizza for dinner. On our way to find it, we cozied up with a fake Wally statue…
…and we added a 2007 World Series Champs smashed penny to Tim’s smashed penny collection.:
When I asked Tim which of the four smashed pennies he wanted, his response was swift and certain: “Hall of Fame.”
Tim often thinks that pictures of trophies (like the WS trophy featured on this smashed penny) are a sign of the Hall of Fame. I’ve never corrected him because it’s cute.
We also hit up the RF team store, which featured a heavenly blast of air conditioning toward the back center of the store. It was incredibly hot (possibly hotter for me since I was lugging Kellan around a fair amount) and our several stops in the team store throughout the night offered a much needed bit of heat relief.
Anyway, pizza was a hit:
By the time the boys (and I) finished their pizza, half of our row seated to have cleared out giving Kellan lots of room to play…
…and access to three new female fans to sweet talk. He was a big hit with the ladies inhabiting the Fenway Park bleachers.
Maybe it was his wicked mullet…
…that endeared him to the fans, or maybe a combination of the mullet and a cute little personality.
One of the fans out there offered to take a photo of us:
In the photo, Tim decided to lift his knee to his waist and hang from my arms. The picture turned out great. Easily our best of the day. It will be a great reminder of our participation in the Fentennial Celebration!
By the way, as far as taking pictures of groups of people goes at Fenway, I think you really have to wait until it is dark out. Every time I have visited Fenway, the sun just floods the ballpark from above the grandstand behind home plate. The air gets visibly thick and heavy, and it really works a number on pictures. For example, in our first and second Fenway Park bonus shot above you can hardly see the Fenway Park sign because of the sun.
Not too long after finishing our pizza, we decided to do some more exploring. We would never return to our seats again during the game.
We walked the concourse from RF to behind 3B. Here is a picture of how cave’ish it is around 1B:
Along the wall, they have pictures of the historical Red Sox logos. Tim had to pose with the batting *red sock* (above middle) and had fun acting like he was lifting the 1909-11 “Boston” and the 1912-30 “Red Sox” (above right). That last picture is one of my favorite of the day. Tim’s got a great sense of humor.
We headed up the stairs on the 3B side up to the aisle behind the field level grandstand seats. We then walked right behind home plate…
…and back toward 1B.
By the way, as far as I know, the score was still 0-0 at this point. Actually, although we watched a lot of the game, we missed almost all of the scoring.
To summarize, the Red Sox scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Will Middlebrooks that scored David “Big Papi” Ortiz. But the Rays came back with two runs in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist and a single by Luke Scott.
Both starting pitchers (Beckett and David Price) were “dealing,” as they say.
They boys were in *explore* mode and I was in *follow the boys* mode. Right where the back of the grandstand opens up (to a hotdog stand, etc.) on the 1B side, Tim and Kellan found a ramp that I’d never noticed before. And they started climbing:
When we got to the very top (a place I’d never been before at Fenway) there was an usher standing by some doors. I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be up there or not. I started to tell the boys to head back down, but then I figured, “what the heck, let’s keep going.” The boys turned left and walked down a walkway (above in the bottom right) behind, well behind whatever we were behind.
We had turned a corner to the right so I could tell we were now walking toward LF. And then we popped out behind section 2 of the pavilion:
I’d been to Fenway Park probably a dozen times and everything we saw over the next several innings was completely new to me. I love it.
There is a bunch of standing room behind the pavilion seats. And it is a GREAT view of Fenway Park and the ballgame.
Midway down the walkway, another fan offered to take this crazy picture of me and the boys:
Tim is throwing a curveball in that shot!
Here is the view from the SRO behind section 6 of the pavilion seats:
This was the first time I had ever looked down on the Green Monster seats. It looked like this:
And David Price looked like this…
…and he pitched to some dude on the Red Sox.
This must have been the bottom of the seventh inning, because I remember that the Red Sox were losing. That means that batter is Kelly Shoppach. He fouled that ball down the RF line before hitting a double to CF.
We could walk down to section 10 before this upper section turned into suites and we could go no further. Here is the view from section 10 (right next to the first suite):
And here is Mike Aviles flying out to CF…
…and Dustin “Lasers” Pedroia taking a pitch before hitting a single to LF.
After Pedroia’s at bat, we backtracked toward the ramp and then went the other way, toward RF. We popped out here, behind section 1 of the pavilion:
Tim did some staged cheering…
…and we had a great view of Big Papi’s inning ending at bat.
We watched the top of the eighth inning from the SRO area behind section 8, where it looked like this:
Kellan was chilling out on my shoulders the whole half-inning and a group of 20-something fans thought it was absolutely great to see a father and two sons in Mariners gear having a great time watching the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park. They were giving out high fives to Kellan and then offered to take this picture:
After a rousing sing-along of “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of 8th inning, we headed back down to the field level. To scout out the lay of the land and plan for a post-game umpire baseball attempt. We watched the top of the ninth inning from the SRO area behind 1B. Well, I half watched it and half scouted out the umpire tunnel situation (visually on the field and electronically by searching Zack Hample’s blog on google). Basically, all I could tell was that it was at the 3B dugout. But I wasn’t sure which end of it – both ends seemed to have a tunnel, at least from where I was standing.
As I scouted out the umpire tunnel, Tim and Kellan hid inside Fenway’s steal framework…
…and generally monkeyed around.
As the top of the ninth ended (with the Rays still winning 2-1), we made our way to the concourse under the field level seats. We walked all the way around to the last tunnel on the 3B side (which is between home plate and 3B).
The goal was to get have home plate umpire Ed Rapuano toss us a beautiful, game rubbed-up “Fenway 100 Years” baseball that had spent time in his baseball pouch on the field during a regulation Fentenntial season game. The whole set up was confusing and did not instill any confidence that we could succeed in our task.
First off, the tunnel into the field level seats is a ramp. Unless you are at the top, you can’t really see much of anything inside the stadium.
Second, I couldn’t tell how far down the 3B dugout was from us, or which aisle we should go down assuming we could even get to the dugout area after the game. I was envisioning a Red Sox loss and having to swim upstream through a river of exiting Red Sox fans.
Third, there were three ushers at the top of the ramp. They probably would have let us walk right by and find an empty seat, but I didn’t want to risk them stopping us.
So we just stopped at the top of the ramp along with the ushers. Kellan was still on my shoulders, at the ready with his glove on his hand (not that he can actually catch anything with it). Tim was at my side, also ready and also with glove on hand.
Francisco Rodney came in to nail down the win for David Price and the Rays. Eight pitches later, he walked the leadoff batter and potential tying run, Daniel Nava.
Nick Punto pinch hit for Kelly Shoppach and successfully bunted Nava over to 2B. He was in scoring position with one out and the double play was out of the mix. I didn’t want the game to get tied up and head into extra innings. Frankly, I was looking for a game-ending double play. But now that wasn’t going to happen.
Up came Jarrod Saltalamacchia. On the 0-1 pitch, Salty blasted a ball to RF. I turned to Tim, “WALK OFF! Come on, let’s go!”
It was amazingly perfect. A home team loss can kill an umpire baseball opportunity. A walk off homerun, however? Pure umpire ball magic!
There was not a single person in the cross aisle as we scurried over to the dugout. Nor was there a single person in the aisle as we cut down the steps of section 63 toward the home plate end of the dugout.
Saltalamacchia was still rounding the bases. The crowd was going WILD! It was pure Fentennial pandemonium. And all the while, Ed Rapuano was camped at home plate waiting for Salty to score the winning run for the Sox.
Meanwhile, the other three umpires all gathered right in front of us. BINGO! We’d picked the right end of the dugout!
As Rapuano strode to the umpire tunnel after calling Salty “safe” on the homerun, we seemed destined to finally get a Fenway 100 Years baseball of our own.
But Rapuano completely ignored the crowd as I shouted out, “Mr. Hickock!”
OMG! Where did that come from? I had my Umpire Ed’s mixed up.
Just at Rapuano started to disappear as he descended the stairs into the tunnel, I finally spit out the right name, “MR. RAPUANO!!!!”
His head half disappeared, and then it quickly rose again. His face was still half under the cover of the dugout roof when he flipped us the most beautiful baseball we have seen all year:
BOOM! SUCCESS! Ed Rapuano made our day!
Thanks, Mr. Rapuano!
After another fan took our picture (above to left), the boys celebrated with high fives and dancing:
The historical significance of a centennial celebration – the first US sporting stadium to ever celebrate a centennial – made this easily the most exciting commemorative baseball that we have ever got at a game.
Thanks, again, and again, Ed Rapuano!
As we continued to celebrate and just drink in the moment (the first and so-far-only Red Sox Fentennial walk off win!) something funny happened. The Rays relieves and bullpen staff filed into the dugout, and outta nowhere one of the catchers (not sure if it was a player or the bullpen catcher) tossed us another baseball!
That baseball miraculously tied the most baseballs we have ever got at a MLB game (excluding one game in Cleveland where we found SEVEN easter eggs).
Wow – for a game not involving a win by our beloved Mariners, could this night get any better? Seriously, could it!?
After the celebrated died down a bit and people started filing out of the ballpark, I realized that we had to go all the way back to our seats at the top of the RCF bleachers – a LONG way away from the 3B dugout – because we had left Kellan’s stroller at our seats.
It was a festive atmosphere as we made our way through the concourse-cave against the current of fans:
In fact, it was so festive that that lady in the grey tank-top waved at us while I took a finally photograph of the cavecourse.
People at Fenway Park truly are great.
When we made it back to RF there were a couple people in straight away RF taking picture with the red Ted Williams homerun seat. But that was it. When Tim went up to get Kellan’s stroller (he is in the following picture can you spot him?)…
…there wasn’t another soul up there with him.
As Tim retrieved Kellan’s stroller I witnessed something funny. An usher went over to the Red Sox bullpen where some grounds crew guys were working on the mound. The grounds crew guy gave the usher a baseball and then the usher stuffed it in his pocket and left.
Hey, the home team bullpen is a great place to find a commemorative baseball and (by this point) we were literally the only people left in the bleachers. So when Tim returned with Kellan’s stroller, we walked by the bullpen on our way out.
I saw a grounds crew guy and asked, “Got any spares down there?” He looked over to the other grounds crew guy (the one who had given the usher a baseball) and asked him the same question.
That grounds crew guy popped his head over the bullpen roof and looked at us. Without hesitation, he held up two fingers and asked, “You need two right?”
“Sure,” I responded.
We walked town to the CF end of the bullpen to meet him by the fence. He handed one baseball up to Kellan and another (along with a fist bump) to Tim. And then he explained, “You know, I don’t want them fighting over one ball at home!” Good plan!
And, double thanks, grounds crew guy!
Again, neither were commemorative, but both were very much apperiated.
As Shaggy would say on Scooby-doo, “Zoinks!” We were walking out of Fenway Park with ELEVEN baseballs, a new personal record (and according to MyGameBalls.com we tied Zack Hample for the most baseballs ever in a single game at Fenway Park – history made at the Fentennial!)
As the boys slept soundly in their hotel beds, I took this picture of our spoils from our one day joining in the Fentennial Celebration:
I wish we could come back again this year, but it doesn’t look like it.
But, hey, Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary, you ask? Yeah, we were there! And we had more fun than anyone else in the ballpark!
Next up, Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary in 2014! Sign us up now!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|11/10 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|16/15 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays|
|16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2|
|62 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2, Red Sox 6, Rays 4|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|9/8 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|