Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended? Personally, I have no clue.
But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1” when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006. And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1” to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.
Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys. And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis. Here is the story of that day.
We had four Mariners games planned for the trips. On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…
…join us for her first game of the season.
We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…
…in left field.
At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:
There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.
I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina. It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks). Anyway, here are a couple photos. First, the view to home plate:
And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:
Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there. They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.
So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.
When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.
Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF. We had one major goal for this game: get a special autograph from Rajai Davis. I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.
As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:
The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo. Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.
I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:
When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.
Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.
I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.
After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:
Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013. The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.
Top Right: While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.
Bottom Left: Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s. Luke French. Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.” After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night. The M’s lost 9-0. Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game. So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.
Bottom Right: Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.
After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):
Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):
And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:
That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.
Finally, check this out:
How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players?? Not many, I am sure. In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).
After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:
There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.
Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer. It was really sunny out there…
…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.
Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…
…behind a line of Blue Jays fans. I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.
On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…
…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season. Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans. Now, it is just a low railings. Much more access and less interference between fans and players. I like it.
Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:
Lower Right: Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.
Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.
Upper Right: Tim touching the LF foul pole.
Upper Left: The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina. This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.
Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:
Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season. This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.
While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…
…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.
Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:
And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:
We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:
And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:
It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.
For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…
…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.
The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…
…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.
In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…
…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.
In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure. First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:
Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts. The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.
Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:
I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang. Not bad though.
Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…
…and then we headed back to our seats. By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!
In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going. Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single. After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…
…of his own. But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning. Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.
Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:
We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting. But no one ever hit us with a homerun.
I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded. I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field. But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up. I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners. I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games. When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue. This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.
Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…
…at the beginning of the game. They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.
While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me. Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:
My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign. I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee). I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there. Tim would have gotten a kick out of that. Oh, well.
In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:
Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.
And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:
So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:
That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound. I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.
But it wasn’t our night. Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning. After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes. Tie ball game.
Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning. But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.
By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…
…watching Oliver Perez warm up:
And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:
Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa. That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.
On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards). We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:
The boys love that spot. Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.
The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back. Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.
After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:
While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves|
|32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3|
|11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|33 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Rajai Davis|
|11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis|
For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled. This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born. I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park. And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game. The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013. It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time. We had to do it.
We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh. The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before. So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…
…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike. The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.
We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:
After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.
It was #FelixDay and we predicted…
…complete Felix domination.
I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate. So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:
In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.
The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips. All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us. Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.
Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so. He confirmed there would be no BP. He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park. He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001. And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.
Jason Phillips is a cool guy. It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a brief on-the-street chat with him.
After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened. He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river. On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:
Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:
When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there. After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):
Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:
I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them. I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!
Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch. He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.
The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk. Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck. Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them. But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games. So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.
We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…
…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel. They were tasty.
I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:
I think it was Hector Noesi.
Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line. Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch. There wasn’t.
So we headed to the kids play area instead:
When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:
Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running. On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim. I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:
FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.
When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.
When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:
Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line. We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese…
…and to pose for a picture with the boys.
、ミスター岩熊をありがとう！ (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)
Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:
When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:
With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen. On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen. That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen. So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher. She took our only family photo of the day for us:
Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason. She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds. When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:
We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field. We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:
We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it. As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:
The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers. There are big windows that look at over the field. As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:
Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:
The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug. I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless. I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one. But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list. More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.
The boys split a footlong hot dog. Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt. Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.
Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:
When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen. We headed over there to watch. The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park. It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers. Here’s what it looked like:
Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…
…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives. See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo? Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing). It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.
Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:
Those were our real seats. They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3. It was a three row section. To our left was the aisle and then LF:
The seats were pretty amazing. They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket. Gotta love below face value tickets!
The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days. For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game. But for a day game, there is no good nap time. At this game, that actually played to our benefit.
When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders. I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy. Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times. I realized there was no one behind our third seat in. In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section. So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders. That’s how we started that game.
It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders. “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.” When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.
Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now. Lucky for us, he did.
The M’s didn’t score in the first. And then King Felix took the mound:
With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning. My plan actually wasn’t too good. The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double. That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.
Felix struck out the next batter. But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.
After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0. The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded. I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third. I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up. And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:
Is that beautiful or what? Here is what our view looked like from the front row:
That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location). In the third inning, this…
…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us. She was quite nice. While Kellan finished his ice cream…
…I chatted her up a bit. She is a former college softball player. And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third? Here’s a hint:
Yep, she gave it to Tim!
Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!
These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us. Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us. But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot. But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game! Yes!
One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:
Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…
…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.
In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:
Let’s examine that photo closer. Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning). Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day. Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout. Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).
Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning! One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.
So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.
The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning. With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…
…throwing a dominating game of his own. In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:
Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.
Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:
But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.
The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:
Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…
…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim. This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.
On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing. When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.
On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:
I didn’t actually see this happen. However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady. But she was very mad about the situation. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats. I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.
We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go. We have better, fun things on which to focus. Like the pierogies race:
And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:
And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:
2-1 Mariners after 7!
Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:
Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him. In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:
The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it. Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B. Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!
At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:
FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.
Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…
…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.
Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out. He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a fly out to deep LCF.
Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single. But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.
It was truly a beautiful thing.
During the post-game celebration…
…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.
As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…
…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.
After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:
We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark. As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:
Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.
When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.
All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience. It was awesome seeing our Mariners. It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan). And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2|
|35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1|
|6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park|
|14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen|
|5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo|
On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.
When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us. And there was no one on the field. The tarp was out. The batting cage was nowhere to be found. There would be no BP to speak of.
Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment. Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.
As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…
…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section. There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers. The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:
This was our view out in CF:
When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):
While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:
Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw. The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter. Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.
Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us. League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball. He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!
After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes. But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave. When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip. He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth). I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere. But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:
When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush. And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.
When they finished up and started to walk off…
…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it. It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!
Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field. So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…
…get in some work in the bullpen.
Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:
Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening. After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints. Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.
When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.
I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!” He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.
After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph. He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:
I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training). So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese. He responded (essentially), “No Japanese! This is America! Only English!”
No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.
Thanks, again, Muni!
My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:
Check out all of those fans! Man, it was packed!
It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium. The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:
We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start. So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse. I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…
…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it. Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:
After lunch, we headed back out to the OF. My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:
We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:
They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.
As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:
Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…
…and we were underway!
I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners. And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:
With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.
Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:
And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!
For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:
It was great chatting with these guys.
Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras. (It looked a whole lot like this).
I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan. But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:
And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:
If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level. Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.
But it didn’t matter. The Mariners were already piling on the runs. They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…
…, and 4 more in the sixth. That made the score 9-0 Mariners.
Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did. And Kellan would have too if he was awake.
Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.
Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:
Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture? Okay, here you go:
Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch. He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:
Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane. But he was still a little cranky from his nap. When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind. Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.
In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch. I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:
My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:
Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun. Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.
Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:
Top left: There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.
Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game. The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field. We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry. It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!
Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel. This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel. Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.
About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us. I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.
It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…
…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.
The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro. That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.
The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…
…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning. There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye. So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.
It was a solid plan. After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us. Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!
Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game. Another wonderful Mariners win! That made them 2-0 for us on the season.
After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:
Then we walked around to home plate…
…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:
The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us. He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.
Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:
And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.
On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:
“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground) “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)
The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset
It was an OUTSTANDING trip.
Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals|
|14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3|
|51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2|
|10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4|
|8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
It’s sad to be in Pennsylvania while my parents are in Arizona with the Mariners and are sending us pictures like this one of Ichiro…
…, this one of new Mariner Jesus Montero…
…, this one of Felix (the catcher)…
…, this one of Smoak, Carp, Ichiro (with pink-lined shoes), Rick Griffin and Guti…
…, this one of Dustin Ackley…
…, this one of Hisashi Iwakuma…
…, this one of King Felix pitching…
…and this one of a foul ball my dad caught today and then got signed in Japanese by Ikawuma:
As explained by our friend Nao: “top, “岩” (IWA=rock); 2nd, “隈”, (KUMA=corner, shadow); 3rd, “久” (HISA, eternity); bottom, 志（SHI, will).”
Okay. That’s a lot of fun in Arizona.
But, while we don’t have any Mariners here in Pennsylvania, we do have baseball!
This past weekend, Tim and I headed to our favorite local ballfield with our buddy Greg for some catching, throwing and hitting. Tim focused on the hitting.
He had a lot of fun with his new baseball bats. Here is a single to right:
A little fun with photo editing resulted in this picture of Tim’s batting motion:
Near the end of our practice, I got two two pictures that did not require any photo editing (although they may look like they did). Tim took a mighty swing but came up empty on this pitch from Greg:
FYI, that is a cloth Rawlings training ball so it did not hurt when it nailed me behind the plate (I was using a camera only, no glove).
And I saved the best for last. Tim’s wicked 6-year-old bat speed made his new metal bat look like a flimsy piece of swing cheese on this swing:
While we are quietly longing to be in Peoria with our Mariners (and Grandma and Grandpa), an afternoon playing baseball at the park is a great alternative!