On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh. The plan was for two games at PNC Park. But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front. But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure. Here is how it all went down.
He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh. We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:
It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course. It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding. After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.
We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park. Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders. But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me. We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes. By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.
We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…
…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders. But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded. We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak. After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was. So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.
The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch. As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway). Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132. I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.
The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton. We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF. I called out, “Hey, Greg!” He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.
We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area. For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:
There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:
When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF. As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine. He happily agreed. Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim. He agreed again. Cammy is the man.
After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:
He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:
And then he signed about 200 more autographs. The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us. There was quickly a group of ten people. And then twenty. And then…who knows how many.
While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds. I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip. I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr. He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer. Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade. He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.
When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?” Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!” But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too. He was so awesome. I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did. And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one. Mike is the man!
As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead. He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself. Bottom line, the answer was “yes.” He got one. So that’s cool. When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!” (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).
After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area. A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us. Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine. Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look: “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!” “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”
Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.
He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:
(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).
Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:
So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez. But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:
We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:
Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo). A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce. I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.
As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side. Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout. He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it. He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.” Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.” So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.
PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP. 95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time. There was lots of competition out there. Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs. Great!
Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia ball. Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us. I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch. Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us. It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.
After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:
And then we all headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF. Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp. On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us. We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:
He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.
While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain! Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life. Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town. On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report. So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:
After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos. Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:
We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub. That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!
Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:
Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:
And then he did some random posing:
When the game started, it was all Marlins. Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either. But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire. He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:
Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:
Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut. Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss. I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double. And that was all she wrote for the Pirates. Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets. Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure. Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:
Ah, yes. PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.
The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream. They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game. And we had no clue they even occurred. When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area —
…there were runs on the board. And that’s all we knew. We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream. They didn’t. And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.
Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:
Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:
After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river. We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:
He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…
…and then we headed down toward the river. This big barge arrived on the scene:
I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.
We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:
And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:
Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen. So we took turns pitching to each other…
…using the drain as home plate.
While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate. When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by. The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim. He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly. After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!” And he looked over me with an approving smile. It was pretty cute.
After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats. We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.
As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:
It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night. So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:
Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more. So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:
There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited. In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties. I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.” As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game. So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.
The deck was almost empty. We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:
And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:
On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats. It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field. Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:
After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate. There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate. We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit. Standing was fine for a bit…
…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.
After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:
After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:
I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog). Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose. My arms are way too high and straight. Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose! Matt is a great guy. It was good to finally meet in person.
The game was sailing by quick. After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate. We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth. After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…
…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game! We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position. Oh, well.
The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:
The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):
To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show. Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:
After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:
And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:
I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball? I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.” Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.
After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home. We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends. So we decided to check it out. While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela. So we did ‘em both.
First, the Duquesne Incline:
Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.
At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:
Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.
Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:
The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables. They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.
The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):
And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:
After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…
….and hopped into our car for the ride home.
Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)|
|13/4 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, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|16/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron; 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]|
|7 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 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), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana 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.***2011 All-Star|
I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now. It has never seemed to work. My original plan this season was to work it into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work. So we came up with a new plan: Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.
Cincinnati was up first. We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.
But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati. No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened. So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!
First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…
…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager. We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate. Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.
Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields. It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.
Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:
In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.
Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van. I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays. He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.
It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’” His reply was priceless: “So are we!”
It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s. He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear. Nothing overly important or exciting. Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000. It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.
The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student. He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously. They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.” And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”
If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.
One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store. It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever. He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”
Oh, yeah. And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it. He never played games there.
And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.
Great American Ball Park is interesting. Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River. Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river. The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River. If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…
…to get to the stadium. (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.) In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings. The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.
Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…
…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.
This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate. There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:
In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.
When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening. And it was really hot. We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line. While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:
After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:
The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing. BP got packed quick. My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP. But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us. When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.
As he walked away, I called out, “Wait! What’s your name!?” He reply, simply, “Tony!” I thought that was pretty funny. We’re on a first name basis, you know? I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.
Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…
…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:
Okay. We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us. We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring. We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):
Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water. It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.
Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:
Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:
Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so. There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.
They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout. But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:
There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out. So that’s what we did…well, we tried to. You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.
So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes. Here was our view:
One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field. I had no clue who he was. The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games. They hardly got the ball out of the infield.
But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field. He was way out there in CF. After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF. I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up. As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me. It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.
Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:
I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered. In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.” The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade. So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.
This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:
Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball. It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.
Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:
And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:
After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:
Next, we headed over into the infield. We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:
After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:
Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:
Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck. Too high. So we headed down to the upper deck concourse. I kept dousing Tim’s head with water. When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror. Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk. When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:
Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:
It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas. First, section 516…
…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…
…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:
That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:
Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen. This is what the bullpen looks like:
The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me. A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area. The Reds, however, did the opposite. Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.
There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye. Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:
We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem. Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:
Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met. But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot. The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.
We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way. As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:
Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs. Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture. While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp. Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen. We waited patiently. And then he reappeared. I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.
When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him. At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen. I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up. But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger. It was very impressive.
After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!” That put a huge smile on his face. During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him. Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude. He really seemed like a great guy.
Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.
Finally, it was time for the game to start. We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…
…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103. This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:
It was crazy hot in our seats. I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats. But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:
It was good to see the Reds play again. We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds. During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games. They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years. Like this guy…
…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto. In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.
This was a low scoring game. The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey. We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.
We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station. It really felt amazing in there. We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:
Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning. That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.
While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could. After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.
As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:
We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while. It looked like this:
And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:
Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:
An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:
We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends. We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):
In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:
And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…
…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day). Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).
Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:
That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…
…flied out to CF. I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it. Booo!
We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…
…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:
Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.
Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…
…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30). Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right): Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.
After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…
…but just for a minute. We had our sights on ice cream helmets. So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008. As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction. I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim. Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.” But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it. He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:
Awesome! Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!
The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous. It was as if every fan at the game was in line. We were in line for at least a full inning. But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait. They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!
We both got twist soft serves. Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces. Delicious.
We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:
Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:
It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long. So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF. On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:
As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:
It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area. Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television. But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:
That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures. He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”
Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:
We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game. So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game. The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.
Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):
With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:
While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout. Here is what it looked like:
The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate. With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:
Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.
Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:
With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run. But he struck out to end the game.
Indians win 3-1.
On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:
We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:
Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.
And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us. It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations. Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))|
|45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
|7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
|11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…
…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!
As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels). We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint: see the title of this entry).
Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it. We stayed at the Doubletree. Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…
Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark. As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…
We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened. In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet. So we got a picture…
We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…
And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game. Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:
So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…
About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down. It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.
It was massive, massive rain.
They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain. We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.
Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea. No one was in the RF stands. No one at all. I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.
Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:
Seven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball. Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF. The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF. The balls were SOAKED. However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.
Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…
At the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game. So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up. The guys were having fun as they did their work. As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that. Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms. Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads. There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.
As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…
Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.
“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.” I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.
(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Who knows?)
Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack. We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).
Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…
I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason. I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).
While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!” I thought that was pretty hilarious. But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.
The next picture tells two stories:
First, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out. Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips). A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.
We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands. They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.
Finally, the tarp came off of the field…
It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…
Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…
At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs. We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit. We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left. We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.
Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game. And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…
The 2010 Mariners bullpen…
…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen. But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.
When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144. That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:
We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.
This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:
We were still absolutely soaking wet. Particularly our feet. I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks. His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours. We had to do the unspeakable. We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks. I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes. All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.
In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again. Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…
By the way, Ichiro grounded out.
Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…
One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…
Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance. We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.
Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.
I felt bad for Marte. I know nothing about the guy. Literally, nothing. But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland. There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad. I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players. Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family. But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win? It doesn’t make any sense.
With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets. Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting. Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.
Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:
This *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle. They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess. And it took forever to get the waffle cone. While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.
Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.
Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte. That did not help his cause.
It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.
Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.
We relocated to the standing room area in LF. Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…
Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out. And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:
While in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch. Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…
In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:
Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…
Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit. Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3. But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.
In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF. We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.
This was our view:
In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.
Here was our view:
By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:
It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:
Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:
It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out. So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball. But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.
Oh, well. It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired. Which was just fine with us. We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.
And guess what? Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:
Our day was still far from concluded. For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show. It is a big fireworks show set to music. I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands. Tim was all excited to try to catch one…
Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.
Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:
After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
On September 12, 2008, my mom, dad, Tim and I headed to Chase Field for Tim’s Second MLB Anniverary. Here was our first view of the stadium as we approached from the parking garage:
We were going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks face off against the Cincinnati Reds. Early in the season, I picked this game for Tim’s baseball anniversary game for three reasons (i) if we cannot make it to Safeco Field for Tim’s anniversary, I plan to take Tim to a different stadium each year on his MLB anniversary game, (ii) the Mariners were on the road, and (iii) I wanted Tim to see Griffey. As I said, we planned this early in the season. By the time this game rolled around, Griffey had been playing for the White Sox for more than a month.
Oh, well. Still, it was a great game. Brandon Webb pitched for the Diamondbacks and if he could earn the win, he would become the NL’s first 20-game winner of the season.
My folks took a picture of me and Tim in front of these big bats in front of the stadium entrance:
We entered the stadium in the LF foul corner and made our way around the concourse toward the third base side. I was happy to see a Randy Johnson poster as we made our way around the concourse:
Actually, I wanted to go to the game the next day too so Tim could see Randy pitch, but Tim and I took a long nap and my folks let us sleep right through the beginning of the game. Its okay because Randy got a no decision after pitching 6 innings of 1-run baseball.
Anyway, I love domes. I have to, I grew up in the Kingdome. But here is a bad thing about domes…
The grounds crew was readying the field as we made our way into the field level seats. Here is a panoramic view of Chase Field as we crossed behind the 1B dugout:
I liked Chase Field, but it did seem quite dark to me with the roof closed. By the way, I’m not sure why the roof was closed. It was beautiful outside and not so hot that we needed protection from the heat.
Before the game, we toured around the park a little bit…
This picture says it all…
Eventually, the game started. And I must apologize, I did a really poor job photographing it. (Of course, in my defense, I didn’t have an MLBlog at the time…or even know that MLBlogs existed).
Our seats were in section 111, row 7. But Tim and I watched the first couple innings from the first row of section 111. We were stationed right behind the ballgirl (or ball lady) down the RF foul line. We discussed it with her before the game and she agreed that she would give Tim a foul ball if or when she got one. Sadly, not one single foul grounder was hit down the 1B line. It ended up being the first time in his 2.5 years that Tim did not get a baseball on September 12th.
Eventually, someone came to claim our seats so we met up with my follks in row 7.
The game was a pitchers dual between Webb and Aaron Harang. By the sixth inning, there were a couple hits recorded on the scoreboard, but no runs.
Of course, Tim got an ice cream helmet…
By the way, the Diamondbacks ice cream helmet is different than all of the other ice cream helmets Tim and I have collected to date. Here are some photos showing a comparison with the holy grail of ice cream helmets, a Mariners helmet from Safeco Field:
Hopefully the difference is decipherable in these pictures. The Diamondbacks helmet is longer than other helmets. Generally, ice cream helmets can be stacked on top of each other. The Diamondbacks helmet can sit on top of a stack of helmets, but other helmets do not fit over the Diamondbacks helmet.
Back to the game. As the fancy scoreboard in CF showed…
…the Diamondbacks broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning. The run was unearned due to an error by Aaron Harang who was also pitching a gem. With one out, David Eckstein hit a weak grounder to Harang and Harang threw the ball into right field. Eckstein made it all the way to third. He then scored on a single by Chris Young.
In the middle of the game, Tim got a little restless in the seats so my dad took him to the kids play area, which is behind the seats in the upper deck out in left field. Tim had lots of fun sliding and generally monkeying around:
After seven innings of an excellent pitchers dual, the Reds relievers entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and promptly stunk it up. After giving up a lead off triple to the pinch-hitting Jeff Salazar and striking out Stephen Drew, the Reds relievers walked three consecutive batters. The final walk scored Salazar making the game 2-0 in favor of the Diamondbacks. Mark Reynolds then struck out. Chad Tracy then strode to the plate and promptly watched the first pitch sail to the back stop. Another run scored on the wild pitch. Tracy then struck out. For the Reds, it wasn’t the most impressive way of striking out the side.
Next it was the Diamonbacks relievers turn to pitch terribly. After 8 innings of scoreless baseball by Brandon Webb, the Diamonbacks bullpen gave up four singles in the bottom of the ninth. But, alas, they were unable to blow Brandon Webb’s stellar performance. The 3-2 victory was Webb’s 20th of 2008. It was the first (and only) time Webb has won 20 in a season, and he was the only NL pitcher to accomplish that task in 2008.
After the game, we stuck around for fireworks. After a bunch of waiting…
…it was fine, but not all that impressive compared to the excellent fire works show we’d seen the prior month in Cincinnati. Part of the problem was that the fireworks were shot off the top of a building (I think a parking garage) across the street from Chase Field and they barely made it above the framing of the roof.
Nevertheless, despite no Griffey, no catching a baseball, and not overly impressive fireworks display, we had an excellent time spending Tim’s Second MLB Anniversary with my folks in Arizona.
For see the rest of Tim’s MLB Anniversary games (through 2009), follow the links below:
So, we woke up to a lazy Saturday morning in Boston…
Wait, first, we better hit some baseballs in Copley Square:
Soon, it was time to hit the road for our already familiar walk down Boylston Street to Ipswich Street and over to Lansdowne — ah, Fenway Park:
Tim and I entered the park through Gate C on Lansdowne and headed up the CF stairs to the Green Monster. I was sad to learn that they were already checking tickets, so we couldn’t get all the way out onto the Monster, but I took pictures for this panaramic:
My folks entered from Gate A on Yawkey Way and went into the field seats behind the Mariners dugout where someone snapped this shot:
Tim and I came over and met up with my folks and we spotted our buddy from the streets of Boston, Mariners GM Jack Zdureincik:
While we were standing here, there was almost nothing going on on the field. Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were playing catch down the LF line by the Green Monster. But the field was otherwise empty. Maybe some grounds crew people were watering the infield. Tim and I were just sitting in the front row drinking some cold water to cool off.
A couple minutes after taking that picture of Jack Z. above, Tim, my mom and I moved down the 3B line a bit and stood where the red arrow is pointing in the picture of Jack. Immediately, upon our arrive (literally within a few seconds), Erik Bedard and Jason Phillips walked by:
Bedard spotted Tim and I and chucked his and Felix’s warm up ball to us — Sweet!
Jason Phillips looks over at us and give us a big smile and a point, “You again!” We returned the favor with a smile and a point. If you haven’t read the last two entries, Phillips, Tim and I had shared a couple exchanges the previous day and two days earlier in New York.
In case you aren’t familiar with Mr. Phillips and want to look him up on Baseball-Reference.com, you’ll notice there are two Jason Phillips in major league history. This one is Jason Lloyd Phillips. He is now the Mariners bullpen catcher. But he previously played for the Mets, Dodgers, and Blue Jays. His best season was 2003 when he hit .298 with 120 hits, 11 HRs and 56 RBI for the Mets. Hopefully he’ll get another shot to make a big league club. If not, I’m happy to have him in the Mariners bullpen and organization.
Back to the game at hand. We noticed that Mariners ALL-STAR pitcher Felix Hernandez was signing autographs down the 3B line. I’m not a big autograph guy, but I figured what the heck, let’s give it a shot. I didn’t have a pen, but I thought it would be cool to have Felix sign the ball he’d just used to play catch with Bedard.
Much more than autographs, I prefer getting our picture with players. So when Felix grabbed his warm up ball back from me I asked him if we could get our picture with him. Felix signed the ball with a borrowed sharpie and responded, “Sure.”
I took the first one myself and then looked at it and it wasn’t very good. Felix just stood and watched me waiting for me to give him the “okay” on the picture. Very cool. A nice Bostonian said, “Let me take it.” So I handed her my camera and Felix posed for another picture with us — much better:
Here we go:
When I gave King Felix the ball, I was wondering if he thought it was odd that I’d ask him to sign such a dirty ball. He didn’t give me the ball, so he didn’t know it was his warm up ball.
My dad buys a team ball at each stadium he visits. He got Felix to sign a Red Sox / Fenway Park Fourth of July Ball.
Here we are in the 3B side concourse showing off the Bedard-Hernandez ball:
Although you can’t see it, that wall has signs for all of the Red Sox World Series Championships. FYI, you can see in this picture that I brought my new Rawlings Trap-Eze infielders glove. I saw it at the Rawlings outlet and loved the white lacing. I have no actual need for an infielders glove (I play LF for a beer league softball team), but I had to get it. I love it.
Next, we checked out Yawkey Way:
That band was playing on Yawkey Way and they were rockin’ it hard. I really enjoyed them. To their right, you can see “Big League Brian” — the dude on stilts. He has a soft baseball that he throws back and forth with fans in the crowd. Tim wanted to go down to see him and the band, but when we finally made our way down there the band was packing up and BLB was nowhere to be found.
Next, my folks headed to our seats in the CF bleachers — section 37, row 21. Tim didn’t want to go out into the sun. So we hung out in the shady standing room area at the back of the grandstand behind third base.
And we took some pictuers.
Here is the Mariners bullpen crew walking to the bullpen — Chris Jakubauskas is sporting the pink backpack (Q: Is my A-Rod ball in there??? We’ll have to wait and see…):
Griff and his colleagues stood for the National Anthem:
Ichi and Griff in the on-deck circle:
Ichiro led off the game. Its no secret, but I’ll go on the record — this guy is decent, extremely decent:
He was followed shortly by The Kid:
In the bottom picture, you can see the ball going foul. He hit it directly above me and Tim.
By the way, I must note that the people at Fenway (pretty much everyone, fans, attendants, cops, everyone…) are so cool. Many of the standing room areas under the grandstand have painted lines on the ground that are clearly marked “STANDING ROOM.” In those areas, they have attendants that will come ask you to stand in the lines if you are milling about outside of the lines.
As Griffey was at bat, I was standing right behind the seats and 15 feets or so outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.” Tim was on my shoulders and I was focused on taking shots of Griff. A bunch of other fans were standing all around me, also outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.” I could hear an attendant approaching and telling people they needed to stand in the marketd areas. Then amazingly, he went to every single person in my area EXCEPT ME. He tapped each person on the shoulder and politely explained that they needed to stand in the painted “STANDING ROOM” areas. But he just let me stand in the middle of the aisle and take pictures of Junior. How cool is that? He understood that it was important to me to get some shots of my guy, and he just let me stay there and do my thing.
After Griff’s at bat, Tim was ready for a chocolate ice cream helmet, and we were lucky enough to walk by a standing room counter space right as a guy left it — so I watched the game from here (leaning around the pole) as Tim ate his ice cream:
FYI, if you want oreos, M&M’s or other toppings on your ice cream helmet at Fenway, I believe you have to go to the ice cream place behind the RF bleachers. They had no toppings at the ice cream stand at the back of the grandstand.
Here is a shot of the grandstand seating down the 1B line:
In my post for the July 3rd game, I mentioned that Tim and enjoyed standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats down the 1B line. The red arrow in the last picture shows where we stood for several innings during this game. Here is what it looks like up close:
Tim is sitting on the step in this picture. He is checking out some beads that a Red Sox fan gave him on our walk to this spot. The guy was all dressed and painted up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July. He saw Tim on my shoulders and gave him a set of red and blue beads. For the rest of the weekend, Tim had me wear one set while he wore the other.
Here is our view of the field from where Tim was sitting (FYI, the view is much better from the standing position — I really liked it in this spot):
Tim loved it in the aisle way. He was all smiles, that is until he grabbed his glove and started playing catcher:
Note, Tim is not wearing his shoes. He felt right at home at Fenway. He was in his socks probably 50% of the time while we were at Fenway during the weekend.
From the aisle, we watched the Mariners bullpen stand in a line:
(From left: Coach John Wetteland, Mark Lowe, Sean Kelley, David Aardsma (bald), Roy Corcoran (hat behind Aardsma), Sean White (looking down), Chris Jakubauskas, Not-Sure-Probably-Jason-Phillips, Not-Sure-Probably-Miguel-Batista — through the crack, pink backpack).
I’m not sure why the Mariners bullpen does this, but (as you’ll see) they do it a lot. They are standing in a line facing away from the scoreboard and toward the doorway from the bullpen to the field. I meant to try to ask someone in the bullpen what it was all about, but I forgot. My mom’s theory is that they are seeing off a bullpen-mate who is entering the game. I’m not sure. I don’t think a reliever came in at this point. Anyone have any ideas?
Finally, we had avoided the sun long enough, we decided to join my parents in our seats in CF. Here was our view:
[NOTE: While uploading that picture, Franklin Gutierrez hit a 3-run bomb against the Rangers to put the Mariners up 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th. Can we finally beat the Rangers? Yes! Go Mariners!]
Before sitting down, Tim showed my folks his shoulder-top power stroke:
My mom and the Fenway faithful taught Tim how to do his first “wave”:
The Mariners changed pitchers and the outfielders converged to do some stretching:
Soon, I decided to go down behind the Mariners bullpen, just in case Griffey, Ichi or Branyan decided to hit a HR there. Tim stayed with my folks for a bit, but then he requested to come down to me — by this point, the boy was bare footed (so I made him stay on my shoulders):
Can you spot us in that picture? We’re standing next to a police officer at the back upper corner of the bullpen. Notice anything else in that picture? Yep, the guys were back at it again:
I know there is some meaning to this, but what is it?
We watched Miguel Batista play catch with Ichiro between innings:
All of a sudden, Tim tells me, “Take a picture of those guys!”
Tim: “Those guys” (pointing, but I couldn’t see it because he was behind my head)
Todd: “Who? I can’t see where you’re pointing.”
Tim: “THOSE GUYS!”
Todd: “Buddy, I can’t see where you’re pointing. Who do you want me to take a picture of?”
Unknown Voice: “He’s pointing at me.”
Todd: “Oh, okay.”
Here are “those guys”:
“Those guys” didn’t care at all that Tim and I stood right here in the middle of the aisle for the last three innings of the game. Very cool. Thanks, those guys.
The police office asked Tim, “Hey, little guy, are you a Red Sox fan?”
I told him that we were Red Sox fans to the extent that we can’t stand the Yankees (sorry, Yankees fans). The officer responded, “That’s fine by me. We can accept that.” He was a nice guy.
Soon we saw this guy stretching out and warming up:
David Aardsma = Mariners Win.
The Happy Totals to prove it:
If you couldn’t tell, our seats were under the “great” in the “make something great” sign.
How awesome, three games into our weekend road trip, the Mariners are 3-0.
The bullpen guys marched back to the dugout to greet the rest of their teammates — Jakubauskas totes the pink backpack…hmmm…and my A-Rod ball?):
Then I watched a couple guys fix the Mariners bullpen mound. This closet is at the CF end of the Red Sox bullpen:
The bullpen fixer guys, like everyone else, were really nice too. One of them congratulated Tim on his team winning the game.
Before leaving Fenway, we got a family picture:
Tim shows off his Felix Hernandez ball.
It was the Fourth of July, so that night, we headed to the park along the river and watched some fireworks:
After fireworks, we returned to our hotel and who did we run into by the elevators? Mariners reliever and keeper of the pink backpack, Chris Jakubauskas. As he walked by, I called out, “Hey, Chris!?” He spun around, “Hey, man.”
He walked over and chatted with me and my folks for a couple minutes – probably about 3 minutes or so. Here is paraphrased excerpt of part of our conversation:
Todd: “So you got an A-Rod ball in your pink backpack?”
Chris: “Huh, what? Oh, yeah. Where’d that come from?”
Todd: “Its mine.”
Chris: “I was going through the backpack because I have to make sure we have certain things in there and I pull out this A-Rod ball. I’m like, ‘What the h— is this A-Rod ball?’ I took it around to everyone, ‘Did you put this A-Rod ball in there?’ No one knew about it.”
Todd: “I gave it to Jason Phillips the other night in New York”
Chris: “I’m gonna have to ask Phillips about that one.”
Todd: “I’ve had it sitting around for a couple years and couldn’t stand it, so I thought it would be happier in the pink backpack.”
Tim (to Chris): Do you want to come see my room?”
Chris: “What, little guy?”
Tim: “Do you want to come see my room?”
I told Tim that Chris has his own room and was on his way somewhere so he couldn’t come see our room. Before parting ways, I asked Chris if he’d watched the fireworks from his room in the hotel. He explained that David Aardsma (a former Red Sox player) got them out onto the Green Monster to watch the fireworks. Hmmm…its nice to be a major league ball player and to have connections!
It was very cool chatting with Jakubauskas. He was extremely nice and was glad to chat with some Mariners fans in the elevator bank. Many props to Jak. He’s got some fans in the Cook household.
After chatting with Jak, we called it a night and looked forward to our final game of the weekend the next day…
Season Fan Stats:
17 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (2) and Yankees)
15 Baseballs (10 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))