On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game. I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend. It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets. We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets. But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).
In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game. If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).
It was a drizzly morning. We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice. When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all. But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.
I had no clue who he was. But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…
As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived. In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.
When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”
And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:
After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF. We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen. But then some Marlins came out. Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin. So we headed back over to LF.
We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock. So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…
We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before). I used my zoom to figure out…
Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field. Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag. There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us. As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”
Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim. I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…
100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!
After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”
Wow – that’s cool!
We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by. We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs. This ball was from Cleveland.).
Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:
Finally, we met up with Poppy. I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry. After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy. First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument. We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:
Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.
Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me. Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm. Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way. I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.
Oh, well, on with the stadium tour. We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan). Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…
…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma). The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment. After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast. So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey. The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C. Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.
Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy. They’d marry. Have a daughter. Have another daughter. Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle. The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid. They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006. Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game. And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began. And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.
Here was their view:
Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…
This is what it looked like as we watched the game:
Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…
…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season. In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open. Four year olds are easily entertained.
There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…
…a squirrel ran across the outfield. Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen. They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.
Hey, there was a game played too.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house. And he brought a big bat with him…
Then things got a little interesting. Bonafacio stole second. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.
Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed. Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do. Bonafacio had his afterburners on. I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!” And that is just what he did. He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball. This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:
Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…
Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings. And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth. None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).
So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.
In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…
And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…
Yeah, we were having fun. It was a great day:
Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.
In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area. That’s when the drama began. Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him. On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.
He went crazy with the water works.
It was legitimate water works. He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.
Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area. He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids. So that’s what we did. He was still huff’n and puff’n.
As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…
The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues. In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side. Between the bandaids and the cup…
We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again. He hit this foul ball…
Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:
Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball. But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.
We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen. With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats. Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us. As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected. Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.
This was our view from section 124:
With all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was. I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us. I guess that foul ball really helped us out. Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.
Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.” We were in the “really fancy seats.”
However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game. Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed. But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.
We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:
Those stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats. An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt. I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.
First, Tim did some kung fu:
After Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned. We rushed down the stairs. The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field. As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.
All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot. In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture. That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.
Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball. It is close to guaranteed.
And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…
Thanks, Wally Bell!
Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy. We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF. But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park. We had to get a picture:
Sounds good to us!
It was dark in there. These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:
That bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park. The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club. To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.
To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows. In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…
It was pretty sweet in there. One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games. Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.
Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!
This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).
Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:
Running the bases, as always, was awesome:
A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:
We got our 100th baseball.
Spent some great quality time with Poppy.
Visited the Lexus Club.
Ran the Bases.
Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark? Not much.
It was another great MLB anniversary.
2010 Fan Stats:
20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)
58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
12 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, Yankee Stadium)
15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)