Coming into the first week of August, we still hadn’t hit our first Reading Phillies game of the season. But early in the week, my wife sent me an email at work about a promotion scheduled for Friday, August 6th. We couldn’t pass it up.
The Promotion: R-Phils Kids Club Night at the Ballpark.
Translation — camping in the outfield! We have “camped” in KOA camping cabins, but Tim had never camped in an actual tent.
Sign us up!
We figured it would a late night, so we showed up a little late for the game. As we entered the ballpark, Tim asked me to take some pictures of these “trophies” and other artifacts from R-Phils of the past:
I was quite interested to see that former New York Mets outfielder, Timo Perez…
The nights Roast Beef RBI guy was DH Tagg Bozied…
Tim enjoyed his first MiLB ice cream helmet of the season:
In the 8th and 9th innings, we found ourselves back in the infield. Here was our quite excellent view…
After the game, they had a tennis ball throwing contest for charity…
Next, it was time for some fireworks…
After the fireworks, it was time to get ready for some camping! We grabbed our tent and sleeping bags from our car and reported back to the main entrance. Tim was psyched!
We brought our gloves and we were ready to go crazy playing around in the outfield. Camping, free reign in the outfield of a professional baseball stadium…what more could you ask for!?
Tim didn’t want to risk missing out on our spot in CF, so we sprinted out to the OF…
And check this out, we literally put our tent up on top of the centerfielder’s spike marks:
…and it was “game on!”
Here was the veiw from the warning track in straight away CF…
…with our tent right in the middle.
On the big screen behind Tim…
…they showed a double feature. First, it was the short movie “The Phanatic Goes to Hollywood.” I don’t think anyone watched it because we were all busy playing catch and running around in the OF grass. It was quite sight, fathers and son (and a few daughters) were spread out all over the place having a great time playing catch.
It was such an odd experience being out there in the OF with all of these other fathers and sons playing catch with tents all around us. It was almost surreal…almost like we were in a movie or something. In short, it was awesome.
You had to buy tickets to attend the sleep over. They were $10/each, but kids 4 and under were free (they are free for R-Phils games as well). So it was $10 total for me and Tim and our tickets came with a midnight meal.
We headed past the infield…
Play, play, play…
Check out how Tim was stumbling around with tiredness as he just kept playing…
By the way, my voice sounds weird in that clip because I was eating sunflower seeds while we were playing catch. Tim just kept playing and fake falling and rolling for ballls…
The entire OF was open for tents, but everyone (but us) was set up in LF or right behind 2B. We were the lone strays out in CF, and RF was completely tent free. Just wide open play space for all of the kids and adult-kids.
We headed over to RF and Tim practiced his accuracy by throwing balls off of the “25” and “53” in the lottery billboards…
Around midnight, people started settling in around their tents for the feature presentation. I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of the two of us on the field, so I gave it my best shot…
From our tent, we could see the Reading Pagoda lit up off in the distance:
…although he looks like he is sleeping, Tim is actually watching the movie in that shot. One really cool thing about the night (among the many cool things about the night) was that, as we laid next to each other watching the beginning of “Rookie of the Year,” Tim told me that he wished Kellan could have come with us. I told him Kellan is too young to camp, but we can bring him next year.
After slowing down from all of the action, Tim was a goner. He only made it about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes into the movie before he fell sleep.
I transferred him into our tent and then took a picture of the scene, now quieted down considerably for the movie:
Our little A-frame style tent felt so small. Usually, you pull a little rope from each side and stake them in the ground to spread the tent out a bit. But there were no stakes allowed in the OF!
I noticed that most people had much newer and cooler looking tents than my probably 15-20 year old tent…
After the movie, people went to bed. They turned off all of the stadium lights, but left the big screen lit up like a big night light.
I figured this was as unique of a ballpark experience as I was ever going to experience so I best make the most of it. After all of the lights were out but our night light, and no one else was stirring, I took a final walk around the OF.
I think this is probably the most unique ballpark picture I’ll ever take:
The infield and grandstand were peacefully resting up for another big day of baseball on Saturday…
Tim was still really tired and it took him a few minutes to finally make it out of the tent…
Not us, we’re ballpark lingerers and experience-soaker-uppers. So, it was time for a morning picture…
So, we were the last remaining members of the “public.”
Oh, well. So be it.
It was time for some more catch…
Finally, we decided we better head out. We stopped for another picture by the infield on our way to the gate behind 3B that leads to the concourse:
This was one of the coolest nights. Thank, R-Phils. Sign us up for next year.
I mentioned earlier that I play softball in the Reading-Berks Business Softball League (RBBSL) against the Reading Phillies (and other local businesses). Our season ended in mid-August when Herbein & Company successfully defended its 2008 League Championship. This season, we were playing for more than just bragging rights. Friday, August 28, 2009, would be “RBBSL Night at the R-Phils.” The league champions would be honored on the field prior to the game. Despite my squad’s poor showing and failure to even make the RBBSL playoffs this season (after losing to Herbein in the Championship game in 2008), we were excited for the game. We were all set up with party seating on the LF Coors Light Party deck. I was fully planning on a homerun landing on our picnic table while watching the game.
But there was problem. After a nice sunny day, the skies opened up and the rain began to fall before Tim, Colleen and I even arrived at FirstEnergy Stadium.
When we reached the party deck, this was the scene:
Moments later, they announced that the game would be delayed until around 7:40.
Tim grabbed his trusty bat (more on that trusty bat later)…
…and we headed over to the covered astroturf area so Tim could take some hacks:
This area is down the left field line behind the stands. By day, this is the batting cage for the team. In fact, see that blue fence behind Tim in the shot to the right? Behind that fence is the netting of the cage, an L-screen, and a big cart full of baseballs. Last season, I witnessed some naughty kids (not Tim!) sqeeze in there and take a ball out of the cart.
During games, the cage is pushed back and locked up, and the turf area is left open for kids to run around. Also, people will pull tables over there and hang out and eat some food under cover at times.
Tim ran around on the turf and took a lot of hacks.
After a while, we took a walk around the stadium. This is a look into the concourse under/behind the infield grandstand:
FirstEnergy Stadium has a great old time baseball feel going on in the concourse. As concourses go, I really enjoy this one.
The picture to the left is taken from behind the 3B side as we are walking toward the home plate area. The picture to the right shows the food stands directly behind home plate.
We kept walking toward the 1B side. I think I have mentioned before that the R-Phils dugout does not connect to the club house via underground tunnel. Instead, the players have to walk through the concourse to get to the club house. Therefore, it was not a big surprise when we walked by the R-Phils club house entrance and found a couple R-Phils signing autographs for a bunch of kids:
I’m not sure who these guys are. But it sure looks like the picture (being held by an autograph seeker) in the bottom right corner says “Kyle,” which makes me wonder if the guy in the middle is Kyle Drabek. It doesn’t really look like him to me. Maybe its Scott Mathieson. Any guesses? The guy in the back sort of looks like hot prospect Dominic Brown, but I’m not certain.
[NOTE: in the background, the yellow sign says “PLAYERS ARE NOT PERMITTED TO SIGN AUTOGRAPHS IN THE CONCOURSE BEFORE THE GAME.” I guess these guys didn’t get that memo.]
We walked right on by the autographing and headed out to the open-air concourse down the 1B line. Someone was there who I wanted to see:
ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Stark was there selling and signing his book. We neither bought the book nor got anything autographed. He doesn’t know it, but I have a past with Mr. Stark. He once made some derogatory comments about my Mariners, and I did not approve. Therefore, unbeknownst to the author, I boycotted Stark for decent amount of time. Maybe a year or two.
But then something happened. Do you ever get the feeling that, despite its massive size and scope, there just isn’t enough suitable baseball content to read on the internet? I get that feeling a lot. Therefore, at some point, I forgave Jayson Stark and I released him from his ban.
From the picture above, you might be able to tell that Tim has not yet forgiven Stark (despite the fact he wasn’t even born yet when Stark made his offending comments). Tim loves everyone he meets at games. But he wanted nothing to do with Stark. It might have had something to do with Stark commenting to us that the Mariners aren’t going to win the World Series (or some nonsense to that effect).
After visiting with Stark, we headed over to behind the R-Phils dugout and took this rainy panaramic view:
Next, we went behind the stands into the open-air concourse and Tim did some dancing to the sweet sounds of a live band playing a set back there:
By the way, the game still hadn’t started, the tarp was still on, and it was probably about 7:30 at this point. Even worse, its started to rain harder:
We headed back to the Party Deck, and an annoucement came over the PA system: the game was cancelled.
We’d get to use our tickets at any future game this season or next. But, shoot, I was hoping to get this game in with my co-workers and softball league-mates.
As the entry title suggests, it was a *minor* dissappointment. A minor league dissappointment, that is. Of course, I must hand it to the R-Phils. They handled this rain out flawlessly, which is more than I can say about the last rain out game Tim and I attended (back on June 3, 2009).
I took one more picture of the rain-soaked field before we headed home for alternate plans – family movie night (“Surfs Up”):
One final note: the game was rescheduled as part of a double-header on the following day. Unfortunately, it poured rain again and the doubleheader was rained out. Therefore, the R-Phils and Bowie Baysox had to play back-to-back double-headers on Sunday and Monday.
My company has a softball team in the soon-to-be world famous Reading-Berks Business Softball League (RBBSL). Sadly, we were eliminated from playoff contention a couple weeks back after a tough loss to the squad from EnerSys. Last Monday, we assembled at Cacoosing Meadows for our final game of the season, another tough battle against the accountants of Reinsel Kuntz Lesher. On the field next to us, it was a battle between EnerSys and the Reading Phillies (their front office). As rec. league softball goes, it was huge game — the R-Phils won 10-9 and punched their ticket to the post-season while sending EnerSys home for a long winter.
After the game, I was chatting with my buddy from the R-Phils and he informed me that the R-Phils had just announced some big news…
…Pedro Martinez would be making a rehab start for the R-Phils on Wednesday, August 5th.
Baseballtown was a buzz. A future hall of famer was about to grace the mound at FirstEnergy Stadium. I was in the middle of a ridiculously busy week at work. But I decided I’d take a short break on Wednesday night so Tim and I could check out Pedro on his comeback trail.
By the way, do you see the guy pictured just below Pedro on the R-Phils website? That’s Mike Zagurski. He’s had a cup of coffee in Philadelphia and boasts a spotless MLB record of 1-0. A couple weeks back, my softball team faced off against the R-Phils on the night of the MLB All-Star game. It was also MiLB All-Star break so Zagurski and a couple other professional R-Phils players came out to Cacoosing Meadows to cheer on their softball team….and to heckle mine. Well, mostly, I think they were there to heckle us. And they heckled us, and heckled us…and then they heckled us some more. Ultimately, we lost the game by one run. But the silver lining is that I can now say I’ve been heckled by someone who has pitched in the major leagues. Not too shabby.
After our softball game, I ordered a ticket to the game online. Entry was free for Tim (0-4 is free at the R-Phils). It was a good thing I ordered it online because, for the first time in team history (or so I’m told) the R-Phils completely sold out. As the sign says, they even sold out of standing room only tickets.
We actually got lucky, on the way home from work to get ready to head to the game, my buddy called and said he had four extra tickets. Someone had given them to him, but he already had tickets. He ended up giving them to us so we’d have reserved seats and wouldn’t have to battle the crowd for General Admission seats or standing room. It was defintely a good thing, because check out how crowded it was at the game…
As we arrived, they were announcing the starting line-ups.
“And pitching for your Reading Phillies, warming up in the bullpen, Pedro Martinez.”
We headed straight to the bullpen, and got there in time to watch about two pitches before Pedro was officially “warm.” So we walked back toward the grand stand with Pedro, his catcher and pitching coach Steve Schrenk walking right down the foul line along with us.
Notice that Pedro is wearing No. 41 rather than his usual No. 45. In that last photo, Schrenk’s pullover is covering up Pedro’s number. Based on a close analysis and comparison of Schrenk’s and Pedro’s career numbers, it probably wouldn’t have killed Schrenk to give up No. 45 for a night. Although, it obviously didn’t kill Pedro to give No. 41 a test drive.
The R-Phils took the field and Pedro did some more warming up:
And then it was time, Austin Krum stood in and Pedro delivered his first pitch in Double-A baseball since he was a 19 year old kid in 1991 pitching for the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League:
The At-Bat would not go well for Krum.
However, things would go much better for Edwin Nunez in the first inning:
Nunez hit a bomb that landed inside that yellow circle up there.
The rest of the inning went much better for Pedro:
- K – Austin Krum
- K – Reegie Corona
- HR – Edwin Nunez
- K – Chris Malec
Totals: 3 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
All the while, Tim was enjoying a chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:
By the way, here was our view:
Next, the R-Phils came to the plate. Did you pay attention to the Phillies-Blue Jays Roy Halladay trade talks? One name you might have heard tossed around was Dominic Brown. Well, in the bottom of the first, Brown absolutely crushed a ball to tie the score up at 1-1:
Building on his early total of three strike outs, Pedro kept dealing in the top of the second:
- K – P. J. Pilittere
- K – Richie Robnett
- ground out – Edwar Gonzalez
Totals: 5 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
Between innings, the R-Phils kept us entertained with the antics of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor:
The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throws hot dogs into the stands much to the delight of the fans. However, on this day, thrown hot dogs were not enough to satisfy the capacity crowd. We wanted more Pedro. And in the top of the third, he delivered again:
Top of the third results:
- K – James Cooper
- K – Marcos Vechionacci
- ground out – Austin Krum (Pedro hustles over and covers first)
Totals: 7 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
In the bottom of the third, it was D-Bro time again — and he delivered again…
…not a home run this time…
…a solid double. This guy is looking good.
Tim was pretty excited for two reasons…
1) he had his glove and he was ready to catch a foul ball — but none came anywhere near us, and…
2) Our Arby’s Roast Beef batter was at the plate. If Brian Stavisky could hit in D-Bro from second base, we’d all win free roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s — unfortunately, Stavisky didn’t come through for us.
After someone else did Stavisky’s job (no free roast beef for us), Pedro was back to the mound in the top of the fourth.
By the way, ever heard of Reegie Corona? He plays for the Trenton Thunder. However, last February-March, as a result of the Rule 5 draft, he played for our Seattle Mariners. I never saw him bat on TV during the spring, so I didn’t know about his crazy wide stance. Check it out:
…but the important thing is that Pedro had his payback on his Double-A arch nemisis, Edwin Nunez:
Top of the fourth results:
- K – Reegie Corona
- K – Edwin Nunez
- single – Chris Malec
- ground out to S.S. – P. J. Pilittere
Totals: 9 Strike Outs, 2 Hit
After the top of the fourth, something funny happened that I thought was noteworthy. After the ground out to end the inning, Stavisky (the R-Phils first basemen) rolled the ball back to the pitcher’s mound. Third basemen Neil Sellers ran by the ball to the dugout. Then, he turned around and back to the mound and grabbed the ball. I was watching him and I figured he wanted the ball to keep as a keepsake from his game backing up Pedro Martinez. But he went and grabbed the ball and threw it to a fan above the dugout. I thought that was pretty cool. He knew someone would want that Pedro-pitched ball.
Anyway, I took one last picture of the field, it was a beautiful night for baseball…
…but, as I said, I was crazy busy at work this week. So we cut our night short after four innings so I could go home and work, work, work. But it was an excellent four innings of getting to see Pedro pitch some minor league ball. And the R-Phils did an excellent job playing host to a huge crowd for the night.
Pedro ended up having two more strike outs over two more innings. He gave up a couple more tuns, one of which was unearned. We’ll see how he holds up when he makes it to Philadelphia. I was watching the gun throughout the night. I saw one pitch clock in at 91 mph. But he seemed to throw mostly curves and change ups that were in the 60s and 70s. In fact, he had one curve that was 64 mph.