June 9, 2012 was a fun day. My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.
We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel. The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby. PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field. As you can see from this panorama:
There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence. And it was definitely in play.
The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool. In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.
I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera. So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.
Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:
I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day. In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.
Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:
I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge. Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate. My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge. In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:
I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park. But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.
Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:
One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit. He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.
Good job, pa!
After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:
Tim put on a good show. He even took some successful lefty hacks.
After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant. Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant. First, the service was horrible. We had to wait for our food…
…for close to an hour. This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager. Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up. They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park. My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:
Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park. PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium. This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park. I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out. I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field. Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born. Hmmm…not sure.
Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:
When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.
While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…
…and then headed over to RF foul territory:
RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park. A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.
When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout. He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate. His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie! Hey, I got a tight spiral!” He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.
Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:
About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line. I caught it on one big hop.
Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…
…and Tim made a nice catch on it.
Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom. So everyone had a baseball already:
Double thanks, Juan!
I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:
My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.
It was a great time down the line. In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players. First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:
I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids. He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove. Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:
I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success). They ended up taking some grounders together:
And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:
And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him). He seemed like a real nice kid.
While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…
…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.
Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line. I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.
My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area. And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni. It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:
And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.
Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day. Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:
While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:
Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…
…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:
Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans. Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).
After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:
Everyone had success and BP. All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group. Not too shabby.
After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…
…do some ballpark birding…
…, and play some catch.
And then it was game time. We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:
When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day. The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:
I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms. I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).
We had the first five seats on the aisle…
…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).
Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:
I also enjoy seeingYuni do well. A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him as our short stop. And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.
Good job, Yuni!
I was all set to catch a game homer…
…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball. But neither came to fruition.
Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F. A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:
While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:
I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:
Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:
By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C? That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.
By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.
But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.
There was an odd play late in the game. I can’t remember who the batter was. But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:
The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free. But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust — face first into the infield dirt. He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.
Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:
Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers. This big pepperoni pizza…
…was only $21. That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable. I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!
After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck. We stopped in at section 318:
Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:
My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season. It completed the metamorphosis at this game. Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:
Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…
…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:
This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:
We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats. The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:
But our day wasn’t finished just yet. After the game, the boys saw their first concert:
A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.
All-in-all, it was a great day!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park
1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
|5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
I found myself in Wisconsin this past week.
So, I took a trip to a snowy Miller Park:
The reason for going to Miller Park in January?
Here’s a random shot of the side of Miller Park as I approached the hot corner:
I entered the park in the same entrance as Tim, my dad and I used on August 16, 2009. In August 2009, we had to wait in line to get into the stadium. But on this night, the door was unlocked and I just strolled right into the concourse leading to the LF foul corner.
Across the walkway from Friday’s was the Brewers team store, and this Brewers Mickey Mouse from the All-Star game:
I headed into the restaurant, which is just above the fence in left field, and took a table along the windows. Here was my view of the infield from my table:
Both dugouts were covered with tarps and the lights were on in the third base dugout (visitors’ dugout). Those lights stayed on the entire time I was there. I’m not sure why.
This next picture is very hard to see because of reflections of lights from the bar in the window. In center field, all of the grass had been removed, and there were several cranes and a bunch of other construction equipment:
The french onion soup and bacon cheeseburger were both excellent…
After dinner, I headed out to the car. It was still snowing…
…to mention that I was dining at his home park. Tim and I have met Happy three times at Camden Yards on June 10, 2009, Miller Park (above) on August 16, 2009, and U.S. Cellular Field on August 17, 2009. After several emails and text messages, Nick and I ended up meeting up the following night for dinner, once again, at Miller Park. Those lights under the third base dugout tarp were still lit up. Nick is a great guy. It was great to get the chance to hang out and chat, and to see Miller Park once again.
Before Wednesday night, I had taken Tim to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play 10 times — 5 times for the Mariners, 4 for the Reds and 1 for the White Sox. Griff played in only two of those games. Only once as a Mariner. That game was, oddly, minor league turn back the clock day. So, prior to Wednesday night, Tim had seen Griff play one game wearing a White Sox uniform and one game wearing a Seattle Rainiers uniform.
Thus, the mission on this night: see Griff play baseball wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform for the first time in Tim’s life.
Much more on Griff later.
We started off the day by purchasing the cheapest seats in the house — right field upper deck — at the CF ticket office. We entered the stadium and headed into Section 90 — straight away CF. Tim was sitting on my shoulders and as we entered the seats we were greeted by the beautiful sight of a field full of Mariners taking batting practice and shagging balls.
Within a minute of entering the seats, I heard someone calling out, “Hey, Hey, Hey.” I looked to the right and saw a cop standing down in the grass below the batters’ eye:
This picture of Felix Herdanez warming up in front of the CF Ivy is out of order, but it illustrates the situation. (By the way, isn’t the ivy nice looking for the batters’ eye?)
We were standing in the seats essentially where the guy holding the little kid is standing (above the double doors). I looked down at the cop yelling up at me and I though to myself: “Oh, man, he’s about to tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.”
I was very wrong. Instead of reprimanding me for toting Tim on my shoulders, the good officer rewarded us with a baseball — a ball I like to think was hit into that grass area as a Mariners BP homerun — most likely a mammoth blast by none other than Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course that is just wishful speculation…but a guy is entitled to some wishful speculation from time-to-time). Anyway, I will take a baseball over a reprimand any day.
So, after thanking the officer, it was back to watching our Mariners warm up. Its amazing how many Mariners games I watch and yet how many Mariners look totally unrecognizable while wearing a jersey-hiding pull-over. The 3 guys in CF were totally unrecognizable. They must have been recent call-ups. One of them looked like he was 10 years old.
Off toward left CF was base coach Lee Tinsley with a guy who looked a lot like Felix Hernandez, but clearly was not Felix. In my post-game research, I’m pretty confident that it was new call-up Guillermo Quiroz. Anyway, he caught a ball in deep left CF. He had run in our direction to field the ball so it was natural to look toward us before turning to throw the ball in to the bucket. As Quiroz looked up, I flashed my glove and he spotted us. He was about 100 feet away or so. But he motioned to me. He was clearly getting ready to throw us the ball. But then he motions “down, down.” I’m clueless. He yells, “down, down.” I interpret this to mean, “Go down to the first row so the throw is easier.”
We walk down to the front row. Quiroz is walking toward us slowly, but is still at least 50 feet away. He points at Tim and says, “Put him down.” Wow — I’m getting reprimanded by a new Mariner! How could it be? Anyway, I put Tim down and he throws me the ball. He then yells, “I didn’t want to hit your boy.” Well, that’s not a reprimand at all. That’s just plain thoughtful. Looks like Quiroz is a keeper.
We watched a bit more batting practice, but Tim kept asking for ice cream. He explained, “they’re playing baseball. Its time for ice cream.” I explained that they were just practicing and we would get ice cream once the game started.
To tide Tim over, we decided to go to the kids’ play area. Tim played on the play set. He passed up on the bouncy house. But he gave the speed pitch a try for the first time:
Next, we headed back into the stadium and saw Jaime Burke stretching down the 3B line:
Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie!” Burke turned around and gave Tim a wave, which was nice because every time Tim waves or says hi to a player at a game he ends up asking me, “Can baseball players not hear me?”
I told Burke it was nice to have him back up with the big club. He thanked me.
We watched Burke warm up Felix Hernandez, first in the outfield grass and then in the bullpen:
Felix looked sharp in the bullpen. I was excited to see him pitch tonight. See the guy in the middle picture in the pull-over jacket? That is Jason Phillips the Mariners bullpen catcher. We watched Felix warm up from the seats just behind and to the left of Jamie Burke. Phillips (and at time pitching coach Rick Adair) stood to the right of Burke and watched Felix.
Eventually, Phillips passes in front of Burke and starts walking toward the bullpen bench. He stops in that little corner and starts digging around in that equipment bag behind the chairs. He dug around in there for about 10-15 seconds. Finally, he pulls out a baseball. He turns around and walks a couple feet toward us and threw it to us. Tim immediately told the guy next to us, “We got a baseball!” And then he yelled “thank you” to Phillips.
WOW – three balls with very little effort.
There would be no record breaking fourth baseball.
It was game time. With Tim on my shoulders, we headed toward the Mariners dugout just in time for the national anthem:
After the anthem, we looked around. No ushers in sight. Four empty seats in the first row of the dugout, right on the aisle. Why not stay a while? Sure thing.
Mariners photo session ensures:
…Ichi popped out…
…its okay, later he would blast a double high off of the CF wall.
Jason Vargas and Rob Johnson had a view of the game very similar to ours:
Vargas is impressing me so far. I’m hoping he keeps it up.
Vargas’s and Johnsons’s view of Russell Branyan probably looked a lot like this:
All this time, Tim hadn’t forgot about his ice cream. Despite the excellent seats, he wanted ice cream bad. I promised we’d go get ice cream right after Griff hit. I didn’t want us to miss this great view for Tim’s first time seeing Griff hit in a Mariners uniform.
The guy behind us offered to take out picture. But Tim put on his fussy “I need ice cream” face:
Since the M’s went 1-2-3 in the first, we got a chance to see King Felix up close in the bottom of the first before going to get Tim’s ice cream:
Mr. Gold Glove, Adrian Beltre, was there too:
While Felix looked in for the signs, Russell Branyan dried off his glove hand:
And just like that, IT WAS TIME — GRIFFEY TIME:
Look at this beautiful swing:
Folks, that swing is one of two things — a 450 foot home run or a foul straight back. Unfortrunately, this one was the latter. He missed it by a millimeter.
Here is a shot of Tim watching Griff and Ichiro bat:
Right after Griff popped out, we headed up the ailse with our sights set on ice cream (sadly, with no ice cream helmet). By the time we reached the top of the section, we had turned back to the field to watch Jose Lopez go deep for this first of two HRs on the day:
With a 1-0 lead in hand, Tim and I bought some chocolate ice cream and headed toward the RF corner. En route to grabbing some “ice cream seats” (def. seats found exclusively for the purpose of Tim eating his ice cream), for the second game in a row, we ran into MLBlogger Zack Hample wearing a hot pink “real men wear pink shirt.” We shared a few words with Zack before grabbing our ice cream seats. Tim can be seen in the last picture in Zack’s entry for this game — click here.
Tim was ready to dig into that ice cream!
We had a great view of Ichiro from these seats:
As Tim ate his ice cream, a familiar face (and shirt) walked by in the cross ailse behind us. It was The Happy Youngster (a/k/a Nick), of homerun catching fame. Some kind patron took an extremely blurry and generally weird picture of me, Brew Town’s Happy Youngster, and my own happy youngster:
Check out Tim multitasking, posing for a picture while still holding his ice cream spoon in his hand. Nick gave us a shout out (and some very kind words) on his entry for this game — click here.
The rest of the night, I was really hoping a Mariner would hit a HR to right field so I could see Zack and Nick battle for the HR. Here they are in home run territory in a photo I like to call “Dueling Ballhawks”:
You know that big warehouse in RF? You know how many people have hit a ball off of the warehouse in the history of Camden Yards? Its no secret. One man:
In this picture, Griff is laughing and seems somewhat embarrassed because they just showed a video about him hitting the warehouse and it said something like “Legends of Camden Yards”….or something like that.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed out to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards – the flag pavillion. I fake pitched about 100 balls to Tim and he fake ran the bases (circled the flags) about 100 times. For most of my fake pitches, I had to chase Tim and try to fake tag him out before he scored at fake home plate. This is Tim’s set Camden Yards routine. His home plate is always the same. This is hit thing at Camden Yards. He loves it. He ran a ridiculous amount. I ran a ridiculous amount. But it was fun.
And Tim was a big hit with the ushers, fans and the beer lady in the corner of the pavillion. Two fans gave Tim little stuffed Chik Fillet cows. The beer lady told me how wonderful Tim was over and over again before she gave him a whole bunch of Orioles baseball cards — she apologized that she didn’t have any Mariners cards.
Well, guess what, one of the ushers did. Check out the Bone:
In addition to running the fake bases in the flag pavillion, Tim played a lot of fake catch in the pavillion as well:
Hey, here’s a picture we haven’t got yet this season, the obligatory Eutaw Street / Warehouse picture:
Down the RF line in foul territory, there is a section of seating above the main cross aisle that is turned toward the field. That section is right behind our ice cream seats. The section was 95% empty. Tim explored it at length. He ran up and down most of the aisles. He chatted with most of the people in the section. He is a picture of Tim at the top of that section. He was yelling “HI GUYS!!” down to people on Eutaw Street and waving like crazy.
And here is a panoramic view looking toward the field from the same spot:
In the 8th and 9th innings, we went back and sat in the second row behind the Mariners dugout. It was a good spot to witness a big Mariners Win!
With two HRs on the night, the big hero was Jose Lopez who was interviewed in the dugout after the rest of the team cleared out:
As we were getting ready to head for the car, I noticed that Mariners trainer Rick Griffin was standing by the screen behind home plate with two very familiar looking bats. He let me get a close peak and a photo:
This was truly excellent night in Baltimore. We finally got to see Griff play, which was awesome. Ichiro had a lazer double. Lopez two HRs. Felix was dominant. And Tim had a blast running around the park.
Its always a great time when you go to Camden Yards, but its even better the 3-4 days each season when our Mariners are in town.
Next up, I think, the Reading Phillies!
Season Fan Stats:
13 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
8 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)
1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
7,735 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))