A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
On the second day of the 2008 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, we left Cinncinati and headed down to Louisville, Kentucky for a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory. It was awesome. But they don’t allow cameras in the factory, so I don’t have much to share on it. So go check it out for yourself. In addition to the factory, there is an extremely cool Louisville Slugger museum that includes a Babe Ruth bat that has 20+ notches that Ruth carved into it around the Louisville Slugger logo for each homerun Ruth hit with the bat during his record setting 60 homerun 1927 season.
On day three of the roadtrip, we made our way up north to Cleveland, Ohio and…
We had a game on tap between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California.
We parked a block or two away, walked passed one of the worst corporated named sporting venues of all-time, the Quicken Loans Arena, through a nice little court yard festival area…
We walked through the large RF-CF concourse with all of its various concession stands…
Heritage Park has two levels. In the top left picture, Tim is shown standing in the middle of a big circle which is lined with HOF plaques. Above, I have included pictures of some of the Indians HOF plaques. These are some top-of-the-line HOF’ers: Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Larry Doby, Early Wynn, Nap Lajoie and Earl Averill.
You might have heard of these guys.
Well, on second thought, although he is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, maybe you don’t know Averill. He isn’t quite on the same level as the rest included here. He was voted into the National HOF by the veterans committee in 1975, 34 years after his final season. I included Averill because, as his plaque notes, he is the “Earl of Snohomish.”
That’s Snohomish, Washington. I grew up in Edmonds, Washington, which is in Snohomish County. Like Adam Eaton, Averill went to Snohomish High School, which many, many, many years after Averill graduated would eventually be in the same athletic conference, WesCo Triple-A, as my high school, Edmonds-Woodway High School. More on Snohomish County and my former WesCo Triple-A foes later.
Back to the tour. After Heritage Park, we headed to the upper deck so I could take pictures for this panaramic view:
Next, it was time for lunch…
Then it was game time. This was our view from Section 175, Row M, Seats 3-5 at Progressive Field:
The Angels got on the board first. After singles by future-Mariner Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Mark Teixeira, and a fielders choice by “Big Daddy Vladdy” Guererro, the Angels led 2-0.
The top of the Angels order would do most of the damage for the Angels on the day. Figgins was 2-5 with 2 runs scored, Aybar was 2-5 with 1 run, and Teixeira was 2-4 with 1 RBI.
The crowd was pretty low key…
In the bottom of the third, Ryan Garko hit a single…
Soon, it was time for ice cream helmets…
We’d driven to Cleveland in the morning from a camp ground an hour or so west of Columbus, Ohio. Tim hadn’t napped so I knew he would crash at some point during this game. That time came in the 4th or 5th inning.
I took him up to the concourse behind our section to get him out of the sun. He fell asleep sitting on my shoulders and he stayed that way for 3 entire innings.
Fasano would get his redeption by scoring the winning run for the Indians on a sixth inning single by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.
Speaking of Sizemore, you know where he grew up? In Everett, Washington. Yep, that’s the county seat of Snohomish County. Sizemore graduated from my WesCo rival, Cascade High School.
Aside from rejuvenating Tim for the rest of the day, something else good came out of Tim’s nap. In that picture above to the left, do you see the large usher in the green shirt and the dark-haired guy sitting under the “PR” in the “Express” sign? Those two chatted the entire Tim I was standing up there. The seated guy had a son (sitting right in front of me in the picture). So the usher mentioned to him that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!! I had no clue. The only advertised promotion was an art kit for kids. Tim had never run the bases at a big league field (for that matter, neither had I), so I was extremely excited. The usher told us where to go toward the end of the game to get in line.
After Tim woke up, we went back to our seats for a little bit. I told my dad about it being Kids Run the Bases Day. We decided to make our way over to the RF corner where the line would form. On our way, an usher took a picture of us…
We missed the uneventful ninth inning because we were in a long line snaking up the switch-back walkway from the field level to the upper deck behind the RF concourse. Notably, Jeremy Sowers got the win for the Indians taking his season record to 2-6. His only other win on the season was the Mariners-Indians game we had attended in Seattle back on July 19, 2008.
Anyway, the line finally started moving and we snaked our way under the stadium, and passed a sign that read:
ON THE JOB SAFETY BEGINS HERE
This Department Has Worked 19 Days Without a Lost Time Accident.
ACCIDENTS ARE AVOIDABLE
The “19” was a red digital light that counts up each day from the last accident.
Anyway, eventually, we made our way out of the tunnels and through an entrance at the side of the visitors’ bullpen…
And much to my delight, since Tim was only two, I got to run with him…
…I gotta admit it, I was at least as excited about it as Tim. It was really cool to be running behind Tim around the same bases we would eventually see Ken Griffey, Jr. circle after his 624th homerun.
After circling the bases, we met up with my dad and got a few more picture before we left the field of play.
We capped off the day at the KOA in Streetsboro, Ohio where my dad helped Tim roast the first smore of his young life:
It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North. It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.
It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.
To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre. Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Let’s get to the game.
We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls. I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.
We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line. Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!! YES! I was psyched.
The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m. I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:
Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:
I took some random pictures:
To the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards. Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.
We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…
After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen). I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.
Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them. I decided to go over and see them.
First a little background. Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips? Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim. Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.
I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game. So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there. But I couldn’t find him. I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:
I was now on the opposite side of the infield. I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.
When I got there, this is what I saw:
To the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door. I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right. At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson. But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy. I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely. But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.
Whichever one it is, the guy was cool. He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings. He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey. He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me. We chatted for a minute or two. We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.
After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured). He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.
“Thanks, mystery Mariner!” (probably Garrett Olson)
After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:
Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)…
…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?” He laughed and kept stretching. Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas. In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.
After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.
Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:
Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who. I was watching some other M’s play catch. When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout. He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”
He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat. He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes. I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.
I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.” Jason responded, “Yep, that was me. Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin. And Franklin was mad at me about it.”
I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it. Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS! You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim. Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!
While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…
…as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph. It was at spring training in 2008. I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club. Hopefully he’s here to stay.
Oh, yeah. So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area. Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever…
Yeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games. But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim. Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself. I was hoping it would happen.
By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left? That ball is also shown here:
Back to that ball in the glove. That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove. After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall. Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her. Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.
When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:
As we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?” “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response. It was funny. He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.
After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball. I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…
In the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it. Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground. In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us. He then handed it back to us and went on signing.
But the story isn’t over. We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing. A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen. Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?” At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.
I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one. By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.” “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.
Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track. I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh. How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!” In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.
Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:
By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught. He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.” Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.” Hey, that’s not too far off. “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.
An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith. He was so extremely nice. He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around. His demeanor just exuded niceness.
At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips. There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.
But for the time being, it was getting close to game time. Most of the players had left the field. So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.
I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:
Notice that big blue double railing down the middle? I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice. But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.
Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:
That “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium. Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low. But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.
Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…
Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels). Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:
Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:
…check out how they have railings between every row of seating. They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell). I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps. It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.
Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…
And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…
…notice anything? Yep, that’s right. The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!! Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section. Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF. But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.
Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory. It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:
In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.
Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.
And that was our tour. We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start. This was our view from the first row in section 104:
So, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers. At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:
Back to our seats. Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:
John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon: “Can I have a baseball?” Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”
And that wasn’t all the fun they had. The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war. Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes. David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face. Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line. It was pretty impressive, and hilarious. Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:
Then we were interrupted with some baseball. I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF. I thought it was extra bases all the way. But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed. It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.
Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com. This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:
Tim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground. Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.
Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store. I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.
While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career. It was cool to be there for that.
Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…
After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF.
As we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep. I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:
Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit. Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.
Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is:
Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game. Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.
I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball. At many games, we get none. But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball. Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more. I needed a Jason Phillips ball. You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).
But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed. I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout. Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.
As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!” He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!” He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma. When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second. Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A. Aardsma relented and let him have the bag. Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.
“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”
Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!
We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats. Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:
The top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall. The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats. It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).
Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:
In case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.
Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:
Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.
Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:
Season Fan Stats:
31 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
When I was a kid, my family would arrive at the Kingdome for a night game at 4;30, before the gates even opened. We’d try (with low to moderate success) to catch balls during BP. After the game, we’d watch the players walk to their cars. It made for a long day at the ballpark. Tim can’t hack such a long day, so he’s attended very little batting practice in his life so far. However, on May 4th, my folks agreed to bring Tim to the game at game-time and let me go early for BP. It was great fun.
I started out by parking over by the Seattle center, grabbing a bite to eat at Dick’s on Queen Ann, and walking to Safeco Field. I arrived at Safeco Field before the gates opened and decided to enter through the Center Field Gate. Waiting to get in, I took these two pictures, which show (i) the closed roof from Occidental & Royal Brougham and (ii) the play area in CF sticking out over the street and toward the train tracks:
Tim loves that play area!
Going to BP was great. I can’t wait until Tim has the endurance to do BP for weekend games. I knew the Kingdome like the back of my hand. But I moved to the east coast a month and a half before Safeco Field opened. I’d only sat in two different seating areas and I’d never had a good opportunity to just explore it. Today was the day. But first, BP.
In CF, you get your ticket scanned and enter the park before they check your backpack. My ticket taker took my ticket early and I went in to get my backpack checked. They told me I’d have to wait until a horn sounded to signify that people can enter the stadium. Everyone else was still outside of the gate, so I had a 20-30 foot head start on everyone. When the horn sounded, I ran inside to see if I could find any “easter eggs” in the RF seats. I was the first person into the stadium but others came quick. There was one ball already in the stands but it was all the way on the other end of the RF seats and some other guy got to it first. So I picked up spot and watched some BP. About 30 second later, the first HR was hit of BP and I literally had to move only 1 foot to catch it on the fly. Here is the ball:
This is a camera phone picture I sent to my wife. Its taken exactly where I caught the ball. The ball was hit by a right handed Mariner in the final cycle of Mariners BP. M’s BP was finished a few minutes later. After catching the ball and taking this picture, I turned around to see this:
He was fixing the seat. I then went around to the 3B line because the Rangers had taken the field and were playing catch by their dugout and in LF.
In the top left, Omar Visquel is playing catch in front of the visitors dugout. I’m hoping little O makes the Hall of Fame. The guy is a stud at SS. In the bottom left, the pitchers are playing catch. To the right, the pitchers are doing some running. Frank “Throw Me a Chair” Francisco (isn’t he the chair thrower?) kept telling “Every day” Eddie Guardado to say “go” to start the pitcher race and a couple other pitchers kept starting when Eddie said “ready, set” and it seemed to upset Francisco much to the delight of all of the other pitchers. In the top right, you can see the head start one of the pitchers took.
As I stood there, I realized that the CF seats are totally separated from the RF seats and the competition for BP HR balls would be really low. So I headed out there. I didn’t catch any more HRs on a fly, but I got one more ball as a 20-something kid over ran a ball, tipped it backwards and it rolled toward me as I scurried over to the deep-center side of the CF seats (in aisle 3). Here is a picture of both of my balls and where I got them:
In the bottom right, the ball stamped “practice” is the Rangers BP HR ball. The top right picture shows where I snagged it off the ground — all the way down the aisle on the other side of the step. The guy standing behind the pointing girl is the kid who got a glove on it but couldn’t make the play. After I got it, he came and gave me a high five and was disappointed in himself for over running it. The top left shows the view to the plate from where I caught the Mariners BP HR. The bottom left shows the stupid railings in the middle of the aisle. Trying to move down to the bottom row for a ball that didn”t make it into the stands, my left foot got jammed into the space between the railing and the next step and I almost broke my wrist bracing for the fall.
While watching BP, I was entertained by a attendant giving balls to little kids:
See the space between the outfield wall and the stands? Tons of balls landed down there. Each time, another attendant went between the walls and grabbed the ball and then gave it to the guy in the pictures above. Each time he got a ball, he stood around looking for just the right kid. Once he found him or her, he tossed the ball to the kid. And without fail, the kid did not say thank you. Each time, the attendant said, “Yo!? What do you say?” Without fail, NO ONE said thank you until he had “Yo’d” them at least 2-3 times. Ah, kids!
Next, it was time to explore. I went all around the field and took tons of pictures for panoramic views. Here is the view from Section 190, Row 12, Seats 11-12 (our alleged seats for this game):
Here is the view from the last seat in the back row of the deepest-center part of the CF upper deck seats:
Here is the view looking straight down from the upper deck down to section 108 in RF (where we sat the previous day):
Pretty scary! Here is the view from the 300 level behind the RF foul pole:
Then I turned around and took some banner shots:
Next, RF foul territory:
Next, I took a picture in the concourse and one back in the stadium:
To the left, its the ad for the “Mojo Meal” – a major dog, chips and a soft drink for $5.00 (1/2 price). Its a special for family 1/2 price days. To the top right, is a picture as I approached the stadium. Its shows Qwest Field in the foreground and Safeco Field in the background. Below it is a picture looking through Safeco Field toward Qwest Field.
Next, I headed to the last row of the upper deck straight behind home plate:
Then another on the 3B side:
Then, I went to the last seat in the last row of the upper deck in LF foul territory:
When I was up there, I noticed that Felix was warming up in the M’s bullpen. So I headed down to the bullpen standing room area:
I also found the Moose and got a picture with him:
Finally, it was about time for the game to start. Tim and my folks showed up and met me by the little boy fountain that Tim loves so much:
Tim and I had tickets in the CF bleachers (cheap!!), but there was hardly anyone at the game. So we ended up sitting with my folks and their friends Lynn and Steve in Section 118. Here was our view:
During the game, we had the Mojo Meal and the world’s largest ice cream helmet — chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheese cake:
On the way to get the ice cream, I took a photo of some license plate art on the wall of the concourse behind 1B:
And the Safeco Field Code of Conduct:
Then I took some action shots of Yuni Betancourt popping out and Franklin Gutierrez taking a pitch (the ball is circled in red in both pictures):
Finally, since I was using this game to really get to know Safeco Field, I figured I’d try for a picture of a Safeco Field fixture. In the picture to the left below, you can see a guy holding a big piece of cardboard. That is “Beltre Guy” as I call him, he probably has an actual name, but I don’t know it. He stands up every time Beltre comes to the plate with a huge cardboard cut out of Beltre’s head. Once I attended a game with Paul where Beltre Guy had a 3 foot tall Beltre bobblehead sitting in the seat next to him. Beltre ended up giving Beltre Guy his bat during that game. Anyway, Tim and I approached him during the 7th inning stretch. As he stood with his arm around Mrs. Beltre Guy, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, Beltre Guy. We live in Pennsylvania and see you on TV all the time. Could we get our picture with you?”
I think we might have been the first people to ever ask him this. His face was priceless. He looked stunned and super-excited. Anyway, as you can see to the right below, Beltre Guy delivers big time in this photograph:
As for the game. It was another good one, but another 1-run Mariners loss. Felix wasn’t as effective as normal, but he wasn’t terrible. After falling behind 4-0, we tied it up. But a two run homer put the bad guys up 6-4. The M’s tried their best, but ended up falling just a bit short when Ichiro popped out with the tying run on base to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.
One other important note, with this game Tim has now seen every team in the AL West live. It is the most important division in baseball (clearly!) and it is Tim’s first to see every team.
Once again, no Ken Griffey, Jr. in the line-up. 😦 He was ill for a couple days.
Season Fan Stats:
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
9 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
6 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies and Mets)
3 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 1 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))
Living in Pennsylvania for the last 10 years, I don’t get many opportunities to see my old friends from school. So I tried to get some of them together for a game on May 3rd. It was also the first game my brother, Jason, had gone to with us since Tim’s first game on September 12, 2006. Uncle Jason got to provide Tim his pre-game shoulder rides:
The plan was to sit in lower section in LF so one of us would catch Griffey’s home run when he hit it. Unfortunately, for the second time in three games, Griff didn’t play. 😦 Nevertheless, the LF seats were great. Highly recommended. We were in Section 108. Here is a view from section 109 (one section closer to the foul pole):
Here is our view of Ichiro:
Because we had a bunch of kids with us, Tim was quite content to stay in the seats for most of the game. Here are some shots of our crew:
Upper left: Paul and Tim. Upper right: Maggie, Weston’s hat, Sean, Lake, Jason and Ainsley. Lower right: me, Tim, Paul with Lake, Jason and Ainsley behind us. Lower left: Lake, Jason and Ainsley.
And here are a couple more friends picts:
Upper left: Maggie and Weston eating popcorn. Upper right: Jason, Ainsley and me. Lower right: Maggie, Weston and Tim blowing in each others’ faces. Lower left: Chris and Maggie.
Because we stayed in the seats the whole game, we didn’t do any exploring of the stadium. But I did snap this one interesting picture on the way into the stadium. This is a feature I’ve never seen in any other stadium: the “nursing lounge.”
Raise your hand if you want to do some nursing with three other people and a nice view of the street outside of a baseball stadium!
Back to the game. Here is Franklin Gutierrez tracking a ball for an easy out:
And here is Ichiro taking a high ball:
Here is a random picture:
See the “Seattle Childrens'” sign on the second deck? And the guy standing in the middle of it? And the next deck directly above him? That is Suite #5 – the Ted Williams suite. That is where we were for Tim’s first Mariners/MLB ever. It was Tim’s and three other little kids’ first games so we celebrated it in style in the suite. It was awesome!
This game was little leaguers’ day and they gave batting gloves to all of the kids. Here is a shot of them:
They are actually really nice batting gloves. However, they are not “kids” gloves…well, maybe little leaguer Danny Almonte…but not for a normal kid. In fact, they fit me perfectly. Here is a picture of some kids wearing them. Notice Weston’s “thumb” sticking up a mile in front of Tim’s nose. The gloves dwarfed the kids.
The weather forcast was dismal. Scheduled to be another drizzly day like the night before. But mother nature would not cooperate with the weathermen. It was glorious. Sunny with an occassional nice cool breeze. It was so nice that Tim took his shirt off a bit and risked blinding the batters with his bright shining Irish-pale muscles:
Grandma provided a personal visor for Tim’s viewing enjoyment:
The game was excellent. Kenji Johjima went yard in the bottom of the ninth to tie it up and send us into extra innings. Here are Tim and Paul (or Paul’s hand) celebrating Joh’s HR with a high five:
…and the extra innings just kept a coming:
The M’s bullpen came through big. They didn’t give up a run for 7 straight innings from the 6th to the 12th. Unfortunately, Tim started to crash because he didn’t get his usual afternoon nap:
So, after the A’s scored three runs in the top of the 13th, Grandma made the executive decision that we needed to leave so her grandson could sleep in the car. I reluctantly agreed. Here is a picture from above the bullpen as we walked toward the exit.
I ended up watching the beginning of the rally standing in the LF corner as my family all stood outside the stadium waiting. Arrgh….I had to leave and we were coming back! By the time we got to the car (parked in the old Kingdome north lot), the sausage vendors outside were reporting that the bases were loaded with only one out. By the time we were two blocks from the lot, Tim was in a deep sleep, Ichiro’s hit tied the score and the M’s were heading to the 14th as we were heading home. As we pulled into my folks’ house, I ran into the TV room just in time for Jose Lopez to step to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs:
For the second time in the series, Lopez came up with a walk off single! MARINERS WIN!
It wasn’t an ideal way to see the Mariners win, but it was better than my colleague who had to watch the Phillies (his team) win the World Series from a bar in San Francisco in a game 5 that he had attended two nights before. Plus, I didn’t miss a Griffey home run. So no harm, no foul. A win is a win!
Season Fan Stats:
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
8 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
5 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (3), Phillies and Mets)
1 Baseball (Thank you, Jarrod Washburn!!)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))
4 Awesome Days of Baseball
2 Awesome Night of Baseball